The first day of the Winter Meetings was extremely uneventful. There were no major signings or trades made, which was a major let down. The news mostly revolved around one player and one team. That being Shohei Ohtani and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Things were a bit weird during Toronto's media session as GM Ross Atkins was not in Nashville like the rest of the GMs. Instead, he did his media session from zoom without disclosing his location. All signs pointed to him meeting with Ohtani or at least Ohtani's representation, and that proved to be the case.
The Jays have been one of the dark horse candidates for Ohtani for a couple of weeks now, but this is a sign that both sides are very clearly interested in one another. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) Ohtani and the Blue Jays met at their Spring Training complex in Dunedin, Florida.
Blue Jays are officially a serious threat to land Shohei Ohtani in free agency
The Jays felt like a suitor that made sense, but it was unclear whether they'd swim in the same financial waters as teams like the Angels, Giants, Cubs, and Dodgers. It turns out that they are, as Ohtani wouldn't be interested like this if they weren't.
The Blue Jays can offer Ohtani a lot of things. They can offer him a chance to win, as he'd be joining a team with an elite rotation as well as two stars in the lineup in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Additionally, they offer Ohtani a whole new country to gain fandom in. He already took the United States by storm, he can get Canada too.
Whether those things are enough for Ohtani remains to be seen, but if the Blue Jays are willing to offer Ohtani the money, they definitely make sense as a contender for his services. The fact that this leaked out to the media could hurt their case as Ohtani wants everything to be extremely private, but the fact that Atkins tried to keep it a secret means it likely wouldn't.
Those who were dismissing the Blue Jays as a threat to steal Ohtani away from the Angels now have no choice but to acknowledge that they're legitimate contenders here.