Blue Jays officials are “believed” to have met with Shohei Ohtani at the team’s complex in Dunedin on Monday, writes Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. It’s the latest development in a free agency process shrouded in secrecy, as Ohtani’s camp has reportedly made clear that the superstar would hold it against teams if they leak pertinent information.
Speculation about Ohtani and the Jays heightened this afternoon when Toronto general manager Ross Atkins switched his media availability to a Zoom conference. Atkins declined to specify his location, but his absence from Nashville’s Winter Meetings indicated he had other priorities. The Jays called the matter a “scheduling conflict.”
Ohtani meeting with Jays’ officials, assuming that was indeed the case, affirms that they’re in the running for the AL MVP. Yet it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a clear favorite. Rosenthal adds that the Dodgers and Cubs are involved, with other teams possibly still under consideration.
To that end, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote this evening that there are “indications” Ohtani had met with Giants’ brass on Saturday. Team officials were spotted at Oracle Park, while Slusser wrote on Saturday of “rumblings” that Ohtani was in San Francisco.
As a result of Ohtani’s evident desire to keep the process as mysterious as possible, executives and coaches with every team involved have steadfastly remained quiet. Angels manager Ron Washington joked at his media availability today that he “didn’t have anything to say about (Ohtani’s free agency) right now, because (he didn’t) want to let anything out of the bag” (video provided by Beyond the Halo).
With Ohtani’s free agency contributing to a slow pace early in the offseason, many fans have hoped for a resolution at the Winter Meetings. That may not be coming. Jon Heyman of the New York Post wrote on Monday afternoon that Ohtani could continue meeting with interested teams beyond the conclusion of the meetings on Wednesday.