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Report: Rival executive sees Jays as a 'sleeper' for Ohtani


The Toronto Blue Jays could be an under-the-radar landing spot for free-agent superstar Shohei Ohtani.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports at least one rival executive views Toronto as a sleeper for Ohtani this off-season.

"The exec’s rationale is this: Any plans the Jays had to sign Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette to massive extensions might now be on hold. George Springer’s six-year, $150 million contract expires after 2026. The team remains in need of left-handed power," Rosenthal wrote Thursday.

The Blue Jays were swept in the wild-card round of the playoffs by the Minnesota Twins last month. Despite reaching the postseason in three of the past four years, the Blue Jays have failed to win a playoff game since reaching the American League Championship Series in 2016.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported earlier this week that the Los Angeles DodgersTexas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox are all expected to be in the Ohtani sweepstakes. Passan added that the industry's overwhelming expectation is that he will end up in Los Angeles due to the Dodgers' financial and geographical advantages, their history of on-field success, and the club's history of signing large deals.

Reportedly, Ohtani also appreciates the Rangers for their 2023 World Series win and the fact that they expressed interest in him early in his career, while he was playing in Japan.

Passan did also note that the Blue Jays "want to do something big" this winter and could also make a run at signing the 2022 American League MVP.

Other teams rumoured to be interested in signing Ohtani are the San Francisco GiantsChicago CubsNew York Mets, and Seattle Mariners.

The 29-year-old had another MVP-calibre season before sustaining a torn ligament in his pitching elbow late in the season, hitting a career best .304 with 44 home runs and 95 RBI in 135 games. He also made 23 starts in 2023, posting a record of 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA, 1.061 WHIP, and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings.

Ohtani underwent elbow surgery in September and is not expected to pitch during the 2024 season.

According to his doctor, he is expected to be available as a hitter by Opening Day 2024. A free-agent deal for Ohtani is expected to be in the neighbourhood of $500 million.