Just because the Los Angeles Dodgers have long been viewed as favorites for Shohei Ohtani's services does not mean the rest of the league should give up the fight.
After all, Ohtani did the exact opposite of choosing the favored Yankees during his last free agency cycle, instead eliminating them immediately. Add the star slugger's six years of experience in MLB, which have led him to ... avoid the spotlight again and demand total secrecy from his suitors, and it wouldn't be totally insane to believe something could come out of left field once more. Imagine demanding a completely clandestine operation, then choosing the team everyone knew wanted you for years?
The Dodgers remain favored for a reason -- the roster, the endless contention window, the ballpark, the fame -- but teams like the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox have remained in the hunt for reasons Los Angeles cannot match. Only the Rangers have the most recent World Series title under their belt, and only the Sox have the New Balance corporate HQ in their vicinity (and Masataka Yoshida). Neither team will have to do much of anything out of the ordinary to woo Ohtani; the Red Sox might have to promise additional spending, but both franchises can sell themselves alongside the Dodgers fairly easily.
But Boston isn't the third team that's mentioned most often these days. Nor are the Cubs, who were positioned as Bo Bichette-adding game wreckers last week. Instead, it's the Toronto Blue Jays "chasing" Ohtani in their attempts to "do something big," according to Jeff Passan -- but, in order to actually make their case, they'd have to go all out, outside the box.
Blue Jays 'chasing' Shohei Ohtani: Reality or crazy pipe dream to hurt Dodgers?
If -- and it's a big "if" -- Toronto somehow ends up making their "big splash" the largest possible splash known to man, they'll have to find some strange inroad into Ohtani's mind cavity. Even the locals agree; SportsNet Canada ran an article touting how Ohtani and Yusei Kikuchi attended the same Japanese high school. Basically, they insinuated that .... you never know what might grab him, from a recruiting standpoint, from a childhood chum to a friend on the coaching staff to a creative "out" clause that allows him to hop if the team suffers two consecutive losing seasons.
This is ... well, it's essentially the New Balance argument, but presumably Ohtani has at least more financial stake there than with Kikuchi. If Toronto's going to get the big fish and topple giants (and the Giants), it'll take a wing and a prayer. But with the entire free agency proceeding under cover of darkness, it's fair for the Dodgers to be at least a little afraid of some black magic. After all, the devil you know is worse than the devil you can't even see.