Blue Jays fans, take it for granted: Ross Atkins shares your disappointment. Atkins also felt the pain of seeing Shohei Ohtani refuse to sign with the Toronto team.
Atkins spoke to the media Wednesday following the signings of center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and utility player Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
While the Blue Jays general manager wouldn’t dwell on Ohtani’s decision to choose the Los Angeles Dodgers over Toronto, he took a moment to commiserate with his team’s fans.
“We were obviously disappointed with the outcome and it was a very difficult phone call to receive, one of the most difficult of my career,” Atkins said during a video conference.
“At the same time, it was an incredible process, a group effort and a collaboration that we are very proud of. Not only this process, but what it meant to be in this position for this organization, for the city, for the country. »
Blue Jays fans were stormed in early December by online rumors that Ohtani had signed with Toronto. Excitement reached a fever pitch on December 8 when an article on the website Dodgersnation.com indicated that the Japanese star had chosen to sign with the Blue Jays.
A social media post from an MLB.com reporter claiming Ohtani was on his way to Toronto led social media users to track what they thought was the star’s flight from Los Angeles south. Ontario, until CBC reported that the person on the private jet was Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den star Robert Herjavec.
Atkins confirmed Wednesday that he met with Ohtani, a generational talent who was twice named AHL MVP, when the Japanese star was still weighing his options.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he was exceptionally drawn to this country, this city, this team,” Atkins said. “I felt incredibly good about the process, but we have moved on. »
This page was first turned on December 28 when Kiermaier, who had chosen to test the free agent market, accepted a new contract with the Blue Jays. The next day, the Toronto team reached an agreement with Kiner-Falefa.
Last year with the Blue Jays, Kiermaier posted a .265 batting average, drove in 36 runs, scored 58 runs, stole 14 bases and hit eight home runs.
For his part, Kiner-Falefa hit .242 with the New York Yankees in 2023 with 37 RBIs, 39 runs scored, 14 stolen bases and six home runs.