There isn’t another free agent that’ll be more coveted than two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani this offseason, but could the Toronto Blue Jays be in the mix for baseball’s most talented athlete?
It appears Toronto’s front office is, at the very least, expected to test the waters on Ohtani’s market, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who included the franchise among an extended list of potential suitors in a recent report on Tuesday.
Passan also reported that a source with knowledge of the Blue Jays’ plans believes they "want to do something big" after the franchise endured a disappointing campaign in 2023, squandering another season of Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s prime years.
The “something big” is referencing the organization’s interest in the Ohtani sweepstakes, and understandably so. But there are certainly a few other big fish in free agency that management could pursue, namely Japan’s Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Yamamoto’s impending arrival to MLB has been overshadowed by Ohtani’s free agency thus far, although the 25-year-old starter is considered the best pitcher available this offseason. According to Passan, the Blue Jays could be among the teams involved in his bidding process.
Toronto could also be a major player for Cody Bellinger, who, outside of Ohtani, is the top hitter on the market amidst an incredibly weak class of free-agent position players. With that, the resurgent 2023 Silver Slugger Award winner’s next deal should clear well north of $100 million.
If free agency proves unsuccessful, the Blue Jays could make a splash or two via trade once again, just as they did last winter after completing notable swaps with the Mariners and Diamondbacks. However, there isn’t a surplus of catchers to deal from this time.
There could still be potential trade avenues to explore, like perhaps with the St. Louis Cardinals, a club reportedly seeking multiple front-line starters and possesses a pair of expendable outfielders (Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson). Plus, both teams completed three trades this past season.
With six big leaguers (Matt Chapman, Jordan Hicks, Brandon Belt, Kevin Kiermaier, Hyun Jin Ryu, Whit Merrifield) now free agents, the Blue Jays appear poised to have $40-$50 million in spending this winter after being a first-time luxury tax team a season ago.