Quite possibly the most anticipated decision in MLB history could finally be coming. After months of speculation, Shohei Ohtani appears ready to pick his next team, with MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reporting that a choice is “imminent” — likely within the next 24 hours, or at least by the end of the weekend.
The Dodgers have long been considered the frontrunners to sign Ohtani, offering him a consistent competitor with a ton of money to spend and a convenient West Coast location, but several other teams remain in the mix to land the sport’s most unique and valuable player — who’s likely to shatter the record for the largest contract in baseball history, with estimates coming in north of $500 million.
Where will Ohtani land? We’ll keep you up to date with all the latest news and rumors below.
Latest Shohei Ohtani rumors
Update, 2:15 p.m. ET: Nevermind, maybe? Contradicting a previous report, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez — as well as several Blue Jays beats — claims that no decision has been made, and that Ohtani could wind up in Toronto or L.A. or somewhere else.
Source: Shohei Ohtani has not made a decision yet.— Alden González (@Alden_Gonzalez) December 8, 2023
That’s not to say it won’t ultimately be the Blue Jays; my understanding is that, at this point, that decision has not been made.
Update, 1:55 p.m. ET: Has a decision been made? J.P. Hoornstra of Dodgers Nation is reporting that Ohtani has in fact made up his mind — and he’s picking the Blue Jays
Shohei Ohtani's choice is in.— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) December 8, 2023
This is not a drill.
Granted, Hoornstra isn’t one of the usual suspects when it comes to breaking this type of news, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, all signs appear to be pointing north.
All eyes on Toronto
In addition to his report about an Ohtani decision being “imminent,” Morosi also confirmed what’s been suspected for days now: that the Toronto Blue Jays have made themselves real players in these sweepstakes.
All of Canada has been on full Ohtani watch ever since word got out that the 29-year-old had taken a visit to the team’s complex in Dunedin, Florida, ahead of the start of Winter Meetings. Things reached a fever pitch on Friday, though, with several accounts tracking the movements of private jets heading from Anaheim to Toronto:
Who knows if this is anything related to Shohei Ohtani but credit "X" users who have identified a private Jet scheduled this morning to fly from Anaheim to Toronto & even if it is...is it a visit to Toronto since he went to Dunedin last Monday? Or is he going to sign? Who knows pic.twitter.com/sMgsUk4Yjs— Jim Bowden⚾️ (@JimBowdenGM) December 8, 2023
And a report that Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi — Ohtani’s countryman and good friend — had rented out an entire sushi restaurant near Rogers Centre for Friday night, a report that was broken by ... a local opera singer. Seriously:
Now Blue Jays fans and media are busy parsing whether this is actually in preparation for a surprise party for Kikuchi’s wife. And people said this free agency was lacking in spice.
We went over all the reasons why Toronto would — and wouldn’t — make sense as Ohtani’s next destination right here. Tl;dr: The Jays are desperate to win before Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit free agency, they need a lefty-hitting DH and their ownership, Canadian media giant Rogers Communications, is likely salivating at the marketing possibilities of landing such a global superstar. Of course, there’s still no reason to count out the Dodgers, Giants or any of the other teams rumored to be in serious contention here, and there’s still a ton we don’t know about what Ohtani actually wants — like, for instance, whether he really is committed to remaining on the West Coast, a more convenient home base for shuttling to and from Japan.