There's nowhere -- nowhere -- Shohei Ohtani could end up that'd be more disastrous than Boston, a few miles down the road from his beloved New Balance factory (which would allow him to roll around in a pile of sneakers and smell shoes whenever he wanted).
But, rivaling the BoSox' horrific pursuit, the Toronto Blue Jays have apparently decided to put their own unique musk on this offseason's most coveted free agent chase. It's ironic that SportsNet compared Ohtani's free agency to Alex Rodriguez hitting the market in 2000, because the Japanese superstar finalizing a contract with either the Red Sox or Blue Jays would feel a lot like A-Rod picking the Rangers. The only difference? Neither franchise would be willing to trade Ohtani to the Yankees when things went south three years later.
Both ballparks are tailored to Ohtani's swing, especially after Toronto moved their right-field fences in last winter (to help Daulton Varsho pull dingers?). Both cities are international and cosmopolitan, though Boston has a richer baseball history. Both teams have current Japanese stars under contract, though the Red Sox and Masataka Yoshida might hold more relevant sway than Yusei Kikuchi.
That didn't stop Toronto scribes for trying to brainstorm all the unique ways their franchise could cut the line, though, from Kikuchi conversations to opt-outs that trigger only if the big-league team stumbles.
Toronto Blue Jays plotting dark horse pursuit of Shohei Ohtani?
Currently, the Blue Jays, Rangers and -- duh -- Dodgers are the teams that have reportedly pushed hardest for Ohtani ... but, of course, that's "publicly." If there's one thing we do know about Ohtani, it's that the man who reportedly plans to penalize teams for leaking his meetings is probably getting plenty done behind the scenes. That's not to say Toronto and Texas are out, but if you don't think the face of baseball is having a few secret, unreported chats, you're out of your gourd.
If the Blue Jays do woo Ohtani, it probably will take an unconventional puddle of factors -- like a friendship with Kikuchi, the hiring of a friend as a staffer or an unprecedented "out" clause (and, yes, a whole lot of money either way).
"Serious about winning and willing to prove it? Offer Ohtani the chance to opt out if the signing team ever has consecutive sub-.500 seasons. Then he knows he’ll play for a winner his whole career.- SportsNet
It’s possible the MLBPA or even MLB would have issues with an opt-out tied to winning rather than player performance. And if your superstar wants out, you have a problem regardless of contract structure. Still, this might get Ohtani’s attention.
One way or another, industry observers predict opt-outs are going to be big with Ohtani’s next move, and the simplest path ahead likely includes a traditional player opt-out or two. Even a basic player opt-out would still represent a major concession on the part of the team."
For now, though, the sum of all the Yankees' fears probably result in plenty of Boston nightmares and only a few Toronto thoughts, try as they might to get involved.