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Report: Jays surprise entrant in Ohtani sweepstakes

Shohei Ohtani Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani - The Canadian Press

The Toronto Blue Jays have emerged as an "interesting surprise entrant" to the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, according to the New York Post's Jon Heyman.

Heyman reports a source told him Ohtani has enjoyed previous visits to Toronto and could see him "liking the relatively low-key environment."

However, Heyman also reports the Jays seem to remain a long shot partly due to the value of the Canadian dollar, which is currently trading against the American dollar at 74 cents. 

According to Heyman, the Los Angeles Dodgers remain a tentative favourite to land Ohtani while the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants are in the mix along with the Jays.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported earlier this week the Blue Jays were among teams "chasing" the two-way star as he is expected to land the largest contract in baseball history this off-season. Passan reported earlier in the month the Blue Jays "want to do something big" this winter. 

The 29-year-old won his second American League's MVP this season despite being shut down with a torn ligament in his pitching elbow late in the year. He finished with a career-best .304 average to go along 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, but should be ready to hit as of Opening Day.


Jays ink trio to minor league deals

The Blue Jays announced Thursday they have signed utilityman Rafael Lantigua, outfielder Steward Berroa and catcher Max McDowell to minor league contracts with an invite to spring training.

Lantigua played 129 games last season for triple-A Buffalo, hitting .305 with 12 home runs and 85 RBI.

Berroa spent last season with the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats and hit .272 in 103 games.

McDowell split last season at two minor league levels for the Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies organization, hitting a combined .233 in 74 games.