TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays are out of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.
General manager Ross Atkins said via text Sunday that the Japanese sensation’s representatives had informed the club that they didn’t make the next round.
The Blue Jays had earlier replied to a questionnaire Ohtani’s reps had passed along to all 30 clubs, with a select few chosen to make in-person presentations next week.
“We felt confident about our presentation,” Atkins said via text, “and we were given feedback by Shohei Ohtani’s representation that we controlled everything within our power.”
According to reports, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets were also told they didn’t advance.
Reports also said that Ohtani had narrowed his decision down to seven possible teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.
In an interview Friday, Atkins praised Pacific Rim Operations head Dan Evans, assistant GMs Joe Sheehan and Andrew Tinnish, pro scouting director Ryan Mittleman, scouts Jim Skaalen and Jon Lalonde, pro scouting co-ordinator David Haynes and co-ordinator baseball research Jeremy Reesor for having “worked tirelessly” to try and win over Ohtani.
“It would be hard to quantify how much work has gone into ensuring that we do everything we can to put our best foot forward,” said Atkins. “Whether or not that ends up in a positive result for us is very difficult for me to tell you. Time will tell. We’ll learn relatively quickly how much we are in the fray. But we are extremely confident that we’ve done everything in our ability to ensure that we will be.”
Ohtani would have solved a number of issues for the Blue Jays, who are looking for a starter to bolster their rotation and an outfielder to help boost the AL’s least productive offence.
They’ll now have to focus on other opportunities.