Is America’s Pastime’s Top Star Headed to Canada?

The interwebs certainly think Shohei Ohtani is headed to the Toronto Blue Jays

Shohei Ohtani sits on the bench at Angel Stadium.
It seems Shohei Ohtani could be taking his talents due north.
John McCoy/Getty

If the internet is to be believed, which it more than often should not, Japanese MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani will possibly be applying for Canadian citizenship in 2024 when he slots into the lineup in Toronto as a way of helping the owners of the Blue Jays bolster their business at home and overseas.

Although the Dodgers are also definitely in the mix for the 29-year-old, Ohtani is believed to be headed to Toronto today to resume talks about taking his talents from Los Angeles to Toronto. Just ask Twitter. Err…X?

If the information about the flight is legit, it would make a lot of sense as numerous Canadian outlets have published stories that the owners of the Blue Jays, Rogers Communications, are hoping to land Ohtani on a multi-year deal that will likely make him the highest-paid player in baseball.

According to The Toronto Sun, the Jays have attempted to sell Ohtani on playing outside of the U.S. and “marketed the coast-to-coast appeal of playing for a nation.”

“Ohtani has expressed his affinity for Toronto and in particular has enjoyed a city that is generally calmer and quieter than many bigger U.S. urban areas, including Los Angeles,” according to a source for the paper. “The pitching and hitting sensation is known to be extremely particular in how he goes about his work regimen and appreciates simplicity during the season so that he can excel at his craft.”

Per the CBC, Rogers Communications is ready to pony up $500-$600 million to land Ohtani because they want him to help sell jerseys and Jays tickets as well ads and cellphones. “The halo effect for the Rogers corporation would be very, very real,” sports media analyst Adam Seaborn told the publication. “You would see Ohtani in cable and wireless ads for Rogers’ core business. And even if you don’t, he’s playing down at the Rogers Centre on Rogers Sportsnet. On the Rogers Radio Network.”

Watch How Japanese Fans Treat Shohei Ohtani’s Home Run Ball
Most polite spectators in the world? We could learn a thing or two.

Mike Naraine, a Canadian sports management associate professor at Brock University, added to the narrative by telling The Canadian Press that an “overpay” for Ohtani would be worth it given all the extra benefits signing the two-way star would create. “The amount of attention, not just from American media but from international media – specifically Japanese media – [would be] massive,” he said. “I call it the Ichiro effect. When you look at when Ichiro signed with the [Seattle] Mariners [in 2000], not only did the Mariners get a lot more Japanese media attention but they also got a lot more Japanese ticket sales with people flying from Japan to Seattle to see the games. But they also got a lot more Japanese-based sponsors. They also got American sponsors who have a Japanese connection like Nintendo or Nikon.”

Whatever happens, a decision could be coming soon.

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