MLB Rumour Roundup: Blue Jays among teams ‘chasing’ Ohtani

MLB analyst Jon Morosi joins The Fan PreGame Show to discuss what factors play into where Shohei Ohtani lands in the offseason and if the Blue Jays stand a chance in signing the former MVP.

With Sonny Gray and Jason Heyward signing Monday, the MLB off-season appears to be picking up steam heading towards the winter meetings in early December.

Of course, this winter is all about Shohei Ohtani and where the two-time AL MVP will take his two-way talents for the foreseeable future. Despite the colossal silence coming from Ohtani’s camp as teams jostle for the 29-year-old’s services, it’s becoming nearly impossible to ignore the Toronto Blue Jays‘ reported interest in adding baseball’s biggest star.

Already having been described as a “sleeper” for Ohtani and in the market to “do something big,” the Blue Jays popped up again Monday in connection to the Japanese star.

Here’s a look at who else is looking to steal headlines this off-season and some other rumours from around MLB.

Blue Jays, Dodgers and Rangers ‘chasing’ Ohtani

On Monday morning, ESPN‘s Jeff Passan wrote an article identifying “Ten teams to watch as free agency picks up.” And while the Blue Jays didn’t make the cut, he did more than enough to capture the attention of baseball fans north of the border as part of the piece’s introduction.

“There are plenty of teams whose off-seasons hinge on the right addition,” Passan wrote. “The Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays are chasing the biggest star in the sport, free agent two-way player Shohei Ohtani.”

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It had been rumoured that Toronto was going to be in the mix for Ohtani. Still, with Passan confirming its interest Monday, along with the bread crumbs being left around baseball, it’s fair to say the club is putting its best foot forward in making as big of a splash as possible this off-season.

Competing with the consistently great Dodgers and reigning World Series champion Rangers is going to be no easy feat, however. Both teams have shown their willingness to spend — and spend big — in recent years, and have won baseball’s ultimate prize over the past four seasons.

But the Blue Jays might have a surprising advantage in the appeal of their home ballpark to Ohtani.

Alden Gonzalez reported in ESPN’s “Shohei Ohtani Tracker” Monday that “people throughout the industry believe that” geography may not be as important to Ohtani as his comfort in his new ballpark.

“That’s why some executives believe a team such as the San Francisco Giants, who play in a very difficult hitters’ park, is unlikely to land him regardless of the desire to add superstar talent,” Gonzalez wrote. “And it might be why the Toronto Blue Jays, who play 2,500 miles away from Ohtani’s Southern California home, are seen as a strong suitor.”

There is no doubt Ohtani has thrived at Rogers Centre. In 13 career games at the dome, he owns a 1.139 OPS with five doubles and three home runs. He has also started one game at the ballpark, throwing seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 win in August of 2022.

So, while there is much that will go into a decision with the magnitude of the one Ohtani is set to make, a win on the margins could make a significant difference.

Padres ‘entertaining the notion’ of dealing Soto

Passan not only dropped Ohtani’s name Monday, but he also brought the San Diego Padres’ plans for 25-year-old star Juan Soto into the mix.

He wrote that the Padres “are entertaining the notion of trading star outfielder Juan Soto.”

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After being dealt to San Diego at the last trade deadline, the three-time All-Star could potentially be back on the market heading into the final year of his contract. The Padres are reportedly looking to cut payroll for 2024 after taking out a $50 million loan to help pay player salaries in 2023.

According to MLB Trade Rumours, Soto is in line to make $33 million in arbitration this off-season.

A team Passan did identify as one of the 10 to watch was the New York Yankees, listing a Soto trade as “the perfect transaction for the team.”

Reds were in the mix for Gray, are interested in Glasnow

After AL Cy Young runner-up Gray inked a three-year pact with the St. Louis Cardinals, it was reported by MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that the Cincinnati Reds “were pursuing and were close” to adding the 34-year-old.

Sheldon added that the Reds “also have interest in Tyler Glasnow” and that the Tampa Bay Rays are seeking an “MLB-ready starter” in return.

With a group of burgeoning young position players, Cincinnati is in need of rotation help after its starters finished 28th in baseball with a 5.43 ERA.

Earlier in November, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported that multiple teams had inquired about Reds second baseman Jonathan India in a potential trade to add on the pitching side.

Braves and White Sox have discussed Cease trade

USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reported Monday morning that the Atlanta Braves have entered the mix of teams looking to trade for Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease.

The Dodgers had previously been reported as a team interested in the 27-year-old right-hander, but with Gray and Aaron Nola now off the market, the Braves may be shifting to the trade market to find a starter.

The White Sox’s new general manager, Chris Getz, has said that his team is open for business this off-season after a disappointing 61-101 2023 campaign.

Cease still has two years of team control and is just entering arbitration for the first time in his career this winter. He is projected to make $8.8 million, so he offers a cheaper top-of-the-rotation option than some of the top free-agent pitchers remaining.

Astros listening on Bregman

Another major name was thrown in the rumour mill on Monday when former MLB general manager Jim Duquette went on MLB Network Radio and said he thinks the Houston Astros are listening and to “keep an eye on Alex Bregman.”

SNY‘s Andy Martino reported that he had been hearing the same as Duquette.

Bregman, a two-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, is entering the final year of his contract, and Duquette said, “they’re not going to pay him” and “there’s no chance he’s going to stay there.”

The 29-year-old third baseman would become one of the top position players available this off-season if the Astros did look to move him. He has received MVP votes in four of the last six seasons and has finished with an OPS over .800 in every MLB season in which he has played over 100 games.

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