MLB Rumors: Braves Ohtani response, NY Mets surprise extension, where Jays turn

  • Where do the Blue Jays turn after losing out on Shohei Ohtani?
  • A Mets player not named Pete Alonso interested in contract extension
  • Braves interested in starting pitcher on trade block

Jul 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17)
Jul 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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Cody Bellinger is Blue Jays' pivot plan after losing out on Shohei Ohtani

The Toronto Blue Jays faithful were taken for a ride on a rollercoaster this past week. There was the report that free agent Shohei Ohtani visited the team's spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla. on Monday. Then on Friday, fans believed that Ohtani was on a private jet to Toronto in what turned out to be an inaccurate report. On Saturday, the Blue Jays received bad news -- Ohtani had agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a 10-year, $700 million contract.

Not the week the Blue Jays fans were hoping for. Not only did they lose out on Ohtani, but they watched the New York Yankees acquire San Diego Padres star outfielder Juan Soto in a trade this past Wednesday. Now, the Blue Jays have the unenviable task of trying and pivoting to sign someone who can make an impact. Well, impact that still won't match what Ohtani or Soto would bring.

The Athletic's Kaitlyn McGrath listed some potential backup plans for the Blue Jays after missing out on Ohtani. McGrath mentions targeting free agents Cody Bellinger and J.D. Martinez while mentioning retaining third baseman Matt Chapman, and exploring reunions with Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Bellinger, as McGrath notes, is the best non-pitcher available on the free agent market right now. Last offseason, Bellinger signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Chicago Cubs in hopes of securing a long-term contract in the future. The signing panned out for Bellinger, as he recorded a .307 batting average, a .881 OPS, 26 home runs, 95 runs, 97 RBI, and 153 hits in 130 games. Bellinger has shown that his batting skills have improved and would serve as a quality outfield option.

But Bellinger will be costly, as he reportedly seeks a contract worth near-$250 million.

Martinez's time with the Dodgers officially reached its end after the signing of Ohtani. With that, the designated hitter's role had been filled, so Martinez needs a new home after having a bounce-back year with them in 2023. McGrath notes that Martinez would fill the role as a "power-hitting right-handed hitter."

As for Chapman, he filled in well for the Blue Jays since they acquired him from the Oakland Athletics after the 2021 season. While his bat leaves a lot to be desired, he makes up for it with defense, as evidenced by a Gold Glove this past season.

The Blue Jays moved on from Hernandez and Gurriel last offseason to bring in reliever Erik Swanson, pitching prospect Adam Macko, and outfielder Dalton Varsho in trades with the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively. Hernandez, despite a relatively good season, couldn't help the Mariners make the playoffs. Meanwhile, Gurriel won a National League pennant with the Diamondbacks.

So there are some intriguing options, as McGrath lays out. But they won't provide the same impact as Ohtani or Soto.