MLB rumors: Latest report indicates a front-runner has emerged for Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani traveled to meet with one team, indicating they could be ahead in the race for the megastar free agent.

Sep 17, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani (17) sits in
Sep 17, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani (17) sits in / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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Sunday and Monday, the first two days of the MLB Winter Meetings, did not bring much new information on the Shohei Ohtani front. But early on in Tuesday (or, late Monday, depending on which time zone you're in) we finally got a bombshell: Ohtani has met with one specific team, traveling to their facility in Florida to do so.

That team? The Toronto Blue Jays, who appear to have emerged as serious threats to sign the generational talent and two-way player. All this according to a report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subscription required). Rosenthal was clear to say that there is no real knowledge about how close Ohtani is to agreeing on a deal with any team.

Rosenthal also adds that the Jays aren't stopping with their pursuit of Ohtani. Juan Soto, widely thought to be available in a trade, is in their sights as well (subscription required).

That's huge news, considering it was previously reported that Ohtani was only meeting with teams in California, having organizations come to him.

Nothing is as it seems with Ohtani's free agency, though, as several reporters have suggested that Ohtani's desire for privacy has resulted in his agent threatening teams leaking any info about his free agency could be viewed negatively by Ohtani. So, perhaps this news actually hurts the Jays, rather than indicating their closeness?

Blue Jays appear to have a massive lead over the field in Shohei Ohtani chase

All 30 teams would love to have Ohtani, but his free agency has engaged a small field of suitors who feel they have a real chance to sign him. The Dodgers have been thought to be the speculative favorites for Ohtani for quite some time, with the Jays emerging at first as a low-key possibility, and now as a real threat.

Toronto has a unique advantage in the market they can offer a major star like Ohtani. Situated in what is considered to be one of the most diverse cities in North America it's a perfect landing spot for an international player, and it also gives Ohtani inroads to a major market since they are Canada's only MLB team.

Not only that, the Jays have felt like they're right there on the playoff hunt. Ohtani is thought to prioritize an organization he thinks he can win with. They've made the playoffs in three of the last four years, losing in the Wild Card round each time. An add like Ohtani could be the piece to turn them into a World Series threat alongside Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Nothing is official, but if you're reading the tea leaves, you have to like the Jays chances at signing Ohtani.

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