Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro Proud Of Shohei Ohtani Pursuit

The Toronto Blue Jays were among the finalists to sign Shohei Ohtani this past offseason before he ultimately joined the Los Angeles Dodgers on a record-setting 10-year, $700 million contract.

The Blue Jays at one point were said to be making progress toward signing Ohtani, with multiple reports suggesting he was flying north of the border to finalize a deal.

That of course never transpired, leaving the Blue Jays organization and their fans very disappointed. Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, later expressed regret for the misinformation that came out.

Despite falling short in their pursuit of Ohtani, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro believes the two-way star was attracted by the idea of playing in Toronto, via Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic:

“He knew neighbourhoods, he had spent time (there), he was thoughtful. He appreciated what was unique about Toronto, the same things that we all feel are unique,” Shapiro said. “He appreciated the diversity, the international nature, the progressiveness. He appreciated the safety, some of the differentiation from big American cities.”

Since joining the Blue Jays nearly a decade ago, Shapiro believes the organization has made strides toward becoming an appealing destination for the top free agents:

“Nine years ago, I was told free agents wouldn’t sign here. You got to pay a premium,” Shapiro said of when he joined the club in 2015. “It’s clearly not the case right now. I’m sure there are still some (who won’t sign in Toronto), but I think for me it was like, OK, that’s definitely not the case. We’re having a conversation with the most pre-eminent free agent in the history of modern baseball and we are among the few teams he’s considering.”

After missing out on Ohtani, the Blue Jays went on to make a few modest additions to their roster, including former Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Daniel Vogelbach, among others.

The Blue Jays have made the postseason in three of the last four seasons and entered Thursday with a 13-12 record, good for fourth place in a tough American League East.

‘Shark Tank’ panelist Robert Herjavec was mistaken for Shohei Ohtani

Amid reports that Ohtani was en route to Toronto to sign with the Blue Jays, thousands of fans tracked what they believed was his flight from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif., to Canada.

Instead, it was “Shark Tank” panelist Robert Herjavec who emerged onto the tarmac at Toronto Pearson Airport in a hilarious turn of events.

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