Losses in the regular season stings, defeats in the playoffs are even more painful.
But what about a celebrated off-season gutting that deflated a team and a fan base that believed it had a chance at landing one of the sport’s biggest stars?
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins on Wednesday spoke publicly for the first time of free agent superstar Shohei Ohtani and how excruciating the end result was.
“That disappointment is shared,” Atkins said on a Zoom call with Jays beat media. “We were obviously disappointed with the outcome and it was a very difficult phone call to receive, one of the more difficult ones of my career.
“At the same time, it was an incredible process and group effort and collaboration. It feels so good, not only that process, but what it meant to be in that position for this organization, for this city, for the country.”
While not keen on revealing many details of the Jays courtship of the Japanese phenom — who ended up signing a 10-year, $700-million US deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers — Atkins did acknowledge that Ohtani did visit the team’s player development complex in Dunedin, Fla. The GM also sounded convinced that Ohtani was serious about Toronto as an option for the next stop in his career.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he was exceptionally attracted to this country, this city, this team,” Atkins said. “I felt incredible about the process, but we moved on.”
Asked if he felt that the Jays were manipulated by the Ohtani camp in an effort to drive up the price the Dodgers ultimately paid, Atkins vehemently disagreed.
“I feel strongly otherwise,” Atkins said. “We do feel really good about the process. It was an incredible effort from ownership, to business, to baseball people coming together.
“It was not the outcome we wanted, but feel really good about the process and absolutely felt like it was authentic and real for us.”
As for what lies next, Atkins said the team will continue to look to add during the off-season but that management feels confident that the team in place can continue to be competitive and improve upon meek post-season exits the previous two Octobers.
“We feel very good about the team that is in place and as we look to improve upon it and see opportunities for us moving forward,” he said.
Recommended from Editorial
Returning Blue Jay Kevin Kiermaier promises to be ‘even better’ in his second season
Blue Jays agree to two-year deal with free-agent infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa