Shohei Ohtani to Blue Jays rumors: Why Toronto has emerged as reported serious contender to sign prized free agent

He’s taken over Japan. He’s taken over the United States. Is Canada next for Shohei Ohtani?

All eyes in the MLB world are on the Japanese superstar. The free agent pitcher/designated hitter is expected to make a decision on his next destination soon, and the Blue Jays not only are interested in Ohtani’s services, but Toronto has emerged as a serious candidate to land the superstar. 

Whatever team lands Ohtani is getting arguably the best player to ever grace a baseball diamond. The 29-year-old is a two-time MVP, a three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger recipient. With his bat, he led the majors in home runs in 2023, and with his arm, he finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2022. 

It’s no shock that there have been a plethora of teams tied to Ohtani. There is some concern about his future pitching effectiveness after undergoing elbow surgery on a torn UCL, but there is no denying what he can do with the bat, or what he is capable of on the mound when healthy. 

MORE: Live updates, rumors on MLB free agency during Winter Meetings

The Sporting News is tracking all of the latest rumors in regards to Ohtani and the Blue Jays:

Shohei Ohtani to Blue Jays rumors

Ross Atkins gives pitch as to why Ohtani should come to Toronto

Date: Tuesday, Dec. 5
Source: MLB Network

On Tuesday, Atkins appeared on MLB Network Radio, and gave his reasoning why he believes pitching the Blue Jays to Ohtani is “easy.”

“This market … if you just talk about the city of Toronto, that it represents a nation,” Atkins said. “That we now have the best resources as it relates to getting players better. Our facility in Dunedin in 2024. Our player-focused facilities that will be at the Rogers Centre will be, in our opinion, one of one. The ability to acquire players at every level. To maximize spending at amateur and international (levels). To be able to trade for players. To be able to go after high caliber free agents … that’s an exciting and easy thing to sell.” 

Jays reportedly met with Ohtani

Date: Tuesday, Dec. 5
Source: Jon Heyman, The New York PostKen Rosenthal, The Athletic

According to Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays met with Ohtani on Monday in Florida. Ken Rosenthal first reported that an alleged meeting was happening at the team’s complex in Dunedin. This makes sense, considering Atkins did not meet with the club’s media in person at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. Instead, he conducted his session using Zoom due to what the team called “a scheduling conflict.”

Even before the free agent went to talk with the team, Ohtani reportedly had a “positive feeling about Toronto,” along with other cities and teams, including the Dodgers.

Jays could alter roster with Ohtani signing

Date: Thursday, Nov. 30
Source: Jon Heyman, New York Post

The Blue Jays are one of the teams believed to be among the strongest in the mix for Ohtani. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported that if Ohtani did sign with the team, there could be some alterations of the roster, including potentially putting Bo Bichette and/or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on the trade block.

Trading either of the two infielders might seem like a head-scratching decision on the surface. Bichette and Guerrero Jr. would be exceptional supporting bats in a lineup that featured Ohtani.  However, both are free agents after the 2025 season, and given the potentially added payroll for signing Ohtani, Toronto may not be able to keep all three for the future. 

Shohei Ohtani contract projection

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Ohtani’s next contract is expected to be a multi-year deal that is said to be at least $550 million, with the potential to reach $600 million.

While there have been concerns about his arm health and how it will affect his next deal, Passan reported Ohtani’s two-way talents and his international star power make him “an all-time free agent” and “transcend the sort of uncertainty that would waylay anyone else’s free agency.” While other free agents may have to take shorter deals due to lingering arm issues, an exception is likely to be made to land such a coveted player like Ohtani. 

Ohtani is certainly not going to sign a new deal that carries an AAV below any current player. As of the start of free agency, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are tied for the highest average annual value at $43.3 million. Aaron Judge’s AAV of $40 million is the highest for any position player.

MORE: What could Shohei Ohtani’s next contract look like?

How about contract length? The longest deal in MLB history is the 14-year deal signed by Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr., however, he was only 22 years old when he inked that agreement. At 29 years old, Ohtani is on the older side, turning 30 in July of next summer. When you look at the longest deals signed by players 29 or older, it’s a three-way tie between Manny Machado (30), Trea Turner (29) and Xander Bogaerts (30), all who signed at 11 years.

Here’s how the AAV (in millions) would shake up based on contract lengths:

  $550M $560M $570M $580M $590M $600M
8 $68.75 $70.00 $71.25 $72.50 $73.75 $75.00
9 $61.11 $62.22 $63.33 $64.44 $65.56 $66.67
10 $55.00 $56.00 $57.00 $58.00 $59.00 $60.00
11 $50.00 $50.91 $51.82 $52.73 $53.64 $54.55
12 $45.83 $46.67 $47.50 $48.33 $49.17 $50.00

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