Update: Ohtani agreed to a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
Speculation is running wild that a decision from Shohei Ohtani on which team he will sign with could come soon.
A post on X from sportswriter Jon Morosi on Friday said a “decision is imminent, possibly as early as today,” with the Toronto Blue Jays as one of the finalists.
Some social media users even tracked a private jet, flying Friday from John Wayne Airport in California to Toronto Pearson International Airport.
The plane touched down in Toronto just before 4:30 p.m. local time, according to FlightAware.
Some people speculated that Ohtani was on that plane.
There were conflicting reports from sportswriters about whether Ohtani was in fact on his way to Toronto Friday, or if he remained in California.
Morosi reported that Ohtani would likely have to face an “extensive” physical exam with him likely getting a “record-setting contract,” meaning if he makes his choice within the next day, it likely won’t be finalized for several days.
By 9:30 p.m. Friday, no official announcement had been made on Ohtani’s future.
Ohtani, a 29-year-old two-way Japanese superstar, is expected to command a massive long-term deal that could be worth around US$500 million.
He spent the first six years of his Major League Baseball career with the Los Angeles Angels but has yet to make the playoffs.
He underwent elbow surgery last August that will prevent him from pitching until 2025 but he’s expected to be ready to play as a designated hitter this spring.
The Los Angeles Dodgers is also among a handful of teams trying to land him.
Speaking to Global News on Friday, Blue Jays Central host Jamie Campbell said Ohtani has a number of reasons to pick Toronto.
“First of all, it’s the only city in the major leagues outside of the United States, a unique culture and a unique fan base, and that might be the most interesting reason of them all,” Campbell said.
“I try to explain to people that the Blue Jays don’t just represent the city of Toronto and to an extent the GTA, but they represent an entire country and there are people from every corner of this country that follow this baseball team.”
Campbell said if Ohtani does decide to sign with the Jays, he will “learn very quickly” that fans across the country will be “following his every move.”
Campbell said economically, Rogers Communications Inc., which owns the Toronto Blue Jays, has enough money to pull off a major deal.
“He’s going to be expensive. In fact, he will command, when this is all said and done, the largest free agent contract ever witnessed in Major League Baseball history. So obviously they wouldn’t be involved if they didn’t have the money to pay him,” Campbell said.
Campbell said Ohtani would “transcend regionality.”
“He’ll be an impact athlete from every possible aspect of this country,” he said, adding that Ohtani would also have an international impact, with his popularity in Japan widespread.
“It’s an important thing for Rogers to step up, spend some money. We’ve seen nothing but playoff disappointment the last two years. In the case of this year, it was a lack of offence. Shohei Ohtani can fix that in a heartbeat.”
— With files from The Canadian Press