Free agency is here and despite this year not exactly having the strongest class of available talent, there is arguably more anticipation than ever before. Simply put, it all comes down to a certain Shohei Ohtani.
When it's all said and done, Ohtani will sign the richest deal in Major League history. Whether the multi-year contract exceeds $500 million will depend on a number of factors, including if -- and more likely when -- teams believe he will return to pitching.
The three-time All-Star was having a season for the ages in 2023, before it was cut short by an elbow injury. Although the subsequent procedure wasn't Tommy John surgery, he is still not expected to return to the mound until 2025.
Blue Jays will be going for it
Regardless, the question is who will eventully be successful in signing Ohtani? From a Blue Jays' perspective, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports via Yahoo Sports that they will make a strong push for the prohibitive favourite to win this year's AL MVP award.
Whether this push is enough to secure the 29-year-old, is anyone's guess. How much are the Blue Jays prepared to pay for a player who will receive offers approaching, and in some cases exceeding, $500 million US?
The heavy favourites at this point are the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, Nightengale suggests the Chicago Cubs are a sleeper pick, while the Boston Red Sox will also be heavily considered.
In fact, it is the mention of the Red Sox, which helps make the whole situation more intriguing. Up until recently, it was assumed Ohtani wanted to remain on the West coast, hence the Dodgers' designation as favourites, but also -- theoretically at least -- opening the door for the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.
A change of heart
However, as we wrote a few weeks ago, the landscape apparently changed more recently, at least according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi claimed the 2021 Silver Slugger has now become more open to moving to the East coast.
In respect of the Blue Jays specifically, the indication is Ohtani has taken notice of their player-development resources. Additionally, he is said to be intrigued about adding Canada as a third country to expand his passionate fanbase.
Of course there's no way of knowing how seriously to take any of this. A cynical mind could even suggest Ohtani's camp is leaking that more teams now have a chance, in order to drive up his value (again) after his recent elbow surgery.
Regardless, at this point Blue Jays fans will happily cling onto any hope that their team will be the one which wins the bidding war for the 2021 AL MVP. He is the ultimate prize, who will immediately enhance any team's prospects of genuinely contending for the World Series.
Certainly, the Blue Jays could use the boost to a lineup which collectively underwhelmed at the plate this past season. And assuming Ohtani does make a full recovery and return to pitching, he will boost the rotation and return to his position as the best two-way player in the game and arguably the best of all time.