Missing out on Ohtani hurts, but perspective is important
TORONTO — From elation one day to devastating disappointment the next.
Welcome to being a Toronto Blue Jays fan these days.
The disappointment of Shohei Ohtani choosing the Los Angeles Dodgers one day after erroneous reports had him potentially close to being a Blue Jay is going to leave a bitter taste no matter how rational you can be, especially with this gut punch coming on the heels of two rather ugly postseason exits the past two years.
The emotion of it all and disappointment is palpable and very allowed, but it’s also important to step back and take a realistic view of the situation.
The Blue Jays were one of a small group of teams in the mix for Ohtani, making a pitch backed by a city that caught his attention, being in the ballpark enough monetarily to make them a finalist in the sweepstakes for perhaps the greatest baseball player we’ll ever see.
The fact they were in the mix and Ohtani was intrigued and gave legitimate consideration to continuing his no-doubt Hall of Fame career north of the border has to be remembered.
It also has to be remembered that a free agent deciding where he wants to live and work and with who for the next decade is a very important personal decision, and Los Angeles clearly resonates with the 29-year-old for a lot of reasons, including proximity to Japan, comfort level and the ability to consistently win.
There are likely many other things, too, that Ohtani has little reason to share.
That Brinks truck with $700 million in it helped, too, and the most money we’ve ever seen handed to a professional athlete is hard to top.
The Dodgers were always the favourites. Always.
They had been lining this up for well over a year behind the scenes, making sure the resources and everything else needed was in place the minute Ohtani became a free agent.
It would have been a huge upset to see him land anywhere else, but it sure did feel like there was a chance he’d choose Toronto when the winter meetings ended and people within the organization were cautiously optimistic as they waited.
There were many feeling the same sort of disappointment as the fan base Saturday afternoon when Ohtani broke the news on his Instagram page with a giant LA logo and a thoughtful message.
But it’s not back to the drawing board, per se.
The Ohtani chase didn’t come without multiple pivot points, they just won’t have the same sort of impact.
Ohtani and the now-traded Juan Soto represented two elite players without flaws. Those types of players don’t grow on trees and they’re very hard to acquire.
There are options left, however.
All of those names come with some sort of risk attached, but that’s the game you play when you’re not chasing unicorns.
There’s a ton of work left for Ross Atkins and the Jays front office, yet still many ways to build another 90-plus win team.
That’s not to say it will be easy, either, but there’s clearly money to spend.
But now gone is the excitement, star power and massive franchise-altering impact of a Shohei Ohtani coup.
Hollywood has always drawn stars, and it’s now got another.