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Shohei Ohtani's free agency turns into full-blown spectacle with conflicting reports, plane conspiracy theories

Peter Sblensorio, New York Daily News on

Published in Baseball

NEW YORK — Rumors continue to fly about Shohei Ohtani — and a flight to Toronto he may or may not have been on.

The two-time American League MVP’s super-secretive MLB free agency transformed into a full-blown spectacle Friday as conspiracy theories swirled and two national baseball insiders shared conflicting reports on Ohtani’s whereabouts.

“Shohei Ohtani is en route to Toronto today,” MLB Network’s Jon Morosi wrote on X at 4:01 p.m. ET. “A representative of his agency, CAA, would not comment when asked about Ohtani’s travel plans. At this hour, Ohtani does not have a signed agreement with any @MLB team.”

At 5:11 p.m., USA Today’s Bob Nightengale painted a different picture.

“Shohei Ohtani is NOT in Toronto,” Nightengale wrote on X. “Ohtani is NOT on a flight to Toronto. Ohtani is at home in Southern California.”

The reports followed slews of rumors and conspiracy theories circulating social media and the website Reddit, where users discussed speculation that a chartered plane was booked for a flight from Anaheim to Toronto. The chatter gained so much steam that the online personality Jomboy dissected the rumors in a video Friday.

The Flight Aware tracking page for the trip discussed on Reddit said the plane landed in Toronto at 4:23 ET.

 

“The plane from Anaheim to Toronto is currently the most tracked airplane in the world,” Fox Sports’ Ben Verlander wrote on X. “And not a single soul tracking it has any idea if it’s Shohei or not.”

Morosi reported morning Friday that Ohtani’s “decision is imminent, possibly as early as today.” Morosi called the Toronto Blue Jays a finalist to sign the hitting-and-pitching sensation, saying on MLB Network that “momentum has built” for the AL East club.

A deal with the Blue Jays would serve as a surprise conclusion to a saga shrouded in secrecy, with Ohtani and his agent urging interested teams not to publicly discuss their courtships, according to Nightengale. Some speculation even revolved around the name of Ohtani’s dog, with MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger saying the name may correlate with the team he signs with.

The deep-pocketed Dodgers have long been considered a favorite to sign Ohtani, who prioritized West Coast teams during his first free-agency tour before signing with the Angels in 2017. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts committed a possible misstep when he acknowledged his team met with Ohtani last week.

Ohtani batted .304 with 44 home runs and 95 RBIs in 135 games last season. He went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA over 23 starts before suffering a right elbow tear that required surgery.

The 29-year-old is expected to bat next season and return to pitching in 2025. Despite the elbow surgery — his second in five years — Ohtani has been projected to command a historic contract exceeding $500 million.


©2023 New York Daily News. Visit at nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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