Yankees fans, now set with Juan Soto, no longer have to justify the potentially flawed addition of Cody Bellinger. Blue Jays fans? They aren't quite so lucky.
While Shohei Ohtani never wanted to go to New York (under any circumstances), it really did seem like he wanted to choose Canada before the Dodgers (reportedly) upped their offer all the way to $700 million and got the job done. Perhaps Ohtani was so New York-averse that he didn't even want to think of making (shudder) two road trips per year there as a member of another AL East team.
So, what's next for Toronto? They were floated as a Soto destination before Brian Cashman paid up. They were in the lead for Ohtani, if you believe the hype, until that vision came crashing down like Daulton Varsho with the game on the line. Now do they dare make a Bellinger move, or do they duck out of the running and make a few financial commitments to their own guys (Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette) instead.
Per Bellinger's fiancee's Instagram story, it seems quite likely the free agent is in Toronto meeting with the Blue Jays. Either that, or they've taken a nice vacation to one of MLB's most desperate cities at a fairly opportune time.
Blue Jays Rumors: Cody Bellinger in Toronto to join Yankees' rival?
Oh, no, wait. Damn. False alarm. Bellinger's fiancee is actually just traveling with Shark Tank's Robert Herjavec.
As many Blue Jays fans have already pointed out, the Rogers Centre is heavily under construction at the moment (hence the likely Ohtani meeting taking place at the team's facility in Dunedin, FL). Therefore, if Bellinger is in town, there isn't much to see other than the executive suite. If he's in town, it seems possible at least that things have already progressed to the nuts and bolts of contract negotiations.
And Bellinger had better hope that's the case. His initial asking price seems to have been balked at. The Yankees' doors have closed. The Blue Jays, after missing on Soto and Ohtani, and possibly after having been used purely for leverage in both conversations, need to splash their cash somewhere if they want to compete in the AL East. The Giants remain distracted by Yoshinobu Yamamoto until further notice. Either Toronto makes their move, or the slugger's price tag continues to drop until San Francisco is ready to talk.
Bellinger has often been called the offseason's most flawed top free agent because of his unsustainable exit velocity, well-timed entrance into the market, and brutal 2021-22 seasons. His defense is top notch, though, and it's not like there wasn't magic in his lumber before he knocked his shoulder out of place during the 2020 postseason. The "most flawed top free agent" title should go to Matt Chapman instead, who straight up stopped hitting midway through 2023 with the Jays.
If Toronto can add the third-biggest offensive name on the market behind Ohtani and Soto, that wouldn't be so bad, especially if they can take advantage of the ticking clock hanging over the negotiation. That won't stop Yankee fans from exhaling, though, after a week of manning their battle stations and expecting history's biggest free agent to land north of the border instead.