Entire baseball world in 'holding pattern' while Ohtani, Soto markets take shape

The dominoes will not fall until the biggest names of the offseason find new homes.
Sep 2, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17)
Sep 2, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) / D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
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Things have yet to truly take off in both the free agent and trade markets during the still young MLB offseason. Shohei Ohtani, the most coveted free agent of all, has yet to find a new home, but the rumor mill has been red-hot. Teams like the Rangers, Mets, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees and even the Blue Jays have frequently been tied to the two-star.

Speaking to Toronto's BBWAA chapter, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins gave an Atkins-like response by keeping things close to the chest, but did not seem to slam the door on any rumors. "We have an incredible opportunity here. The city, the country, the support of ownership, the winning environment, the renovations that have occurred,” Atkins said. “We have incredible opportunities with the economy and the diversity and the strength of this city that is celebrated by a country", he said - as relayed by Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith.

For those following along at home, this is Atkins's version of saying something significant. A typical response from him would be something along the lines of, "we're exploring many different avenues", and leave it at that.

Of course, bringing aboard someone of Ohtani's stature would be a truly franchise-altering move by the Blue Jays. The cash is certainly there, and there's even a Yusei Kikuchi-Shohei Ohtani connection that could play a (very, very, very minor) role. Atkins went on to say that he feels like the Jays are "one of the few markets that has the ability to be nimble" in the pursuit of the top-available name this offseason.

This is saying nothing about the presence of Juan Soto in the trade market. Sure, the Jays would love to sign Ohtani, but a trade with the Padres that would send Soto north of the border is another option on the table.

Again relayed by BNS, Atkins said that the Jays are "absolutely open" to acquiring a rental player, which, in this case, has to mean Soto. the 25-year-old is going to be playing on an expiring contract and is still one of the most talented players in all of baseball. The odds of the Jays both acquiring and extending him would be slim, but a full year of Soto in their lineup would make them immediate World Series favorites.

As a whole, there's been little-to-no movement around the league anywhere else. It seems that all teams, not just the Blue Jays, are in a holding period while the Ohtani and Soto-sized dominoes fall. The St. Louis Cardinals have already gone out and signed three starting pitchers and the White Sox signed Blue Jays legend Paul DeJong to a big league contract, but outside of that? Nothing.