TORONTO >> Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins expressed regret Shoehei Ohtani turned down Toronto after meeting with the team and chose to sign a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Atkins for the first time confirmed Ohtani visited Toronto’s spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, but wouldn’t say whether the meeting occurred on Dec. 4, when Atkins spoke to reporters at the winter meetings via Zoom rather than in person in Nashville, Tennessee. Ohtani announced his agreement with the Dodgers five days later.

‘We were obviously very disappointed with the outcome and it was a very difficult phone call to receive, one of the more difficult ones in my career,” Atkins said today. “At the same time, (it was an) incredible process and group effort and collaboration that I feel so good about, not only that process but what it meant to be in that position for the organization, for the city, for the country. There’s no doubt in my mind he was exceptionally attracted to this country, this city, this team. We felt incredible about the process, but we moved on.”

Ohtani also met with the San Francisco Giants, who said they made an offer comparable to the one he agreed to with the Dodgers.

Atkins didn’t think the Blue Jays were used to extract a better offer from a competing bidder.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “I feel strongly otherwise. We feel really good about the process. It was an incredible effort from ownership to business to baseball, people coming together. Not the outcome we wanted, but feel really good about the process and absolutely felt like it was authentic and real.”

Since missing out on Ohtani, the Blue Jays have brought back Gold Glove outfielder Kevin Kiermaier with a $10.5 million, one-year deal, and added utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a Mid-Pacific graduate, with a $15 million, two-year contract. Atkins said outfielder and designated hitters are the positions he was most likely to add to before spring training.

“We have a very good team in place that we are exceptionally excited about,” Atkins said. “We could be open to a trade. We are not actively looking to trade away from our major league team.”

Toronto was 89-73 last season and earned an AL wild card berth for its third playoff appearance in four seasons but was swept for the third straight time, scoring one run in two losses at Minnesota.

Kiner-Falefa and Kiermaier had different experiences in free agency, with Kiermaier finding fewer suitors this offseason than a year ago.

“All I need is one team interested, so I’m thankful and grateful the Blue Jays were that team,” Kiermaier said. “I want to have the best offensive year I’ve had in my whole career.”

Kiner-Falefa said he was “kind of overwhelmed” by the level of interest. He turned down offers of everyday roles at shortstop and center field in favor of a super-utility role with Toronto, saying he believes the Blue Jays are “ready to win.”

“It was kind of an easy decision when you factor in the living situation, the city, especially leaving New York,” said Kiner-Falefa, who spent the past two seasons with the Yankees. “I kind of fell in love with the energy (of New York). The only other place I felt that was Toronto.”

Kiner-Falefa, who has Samoan and Japanese roots, said he appreciates Toronto’s multiculturalism, its eclectic architecture, and its culinary options.

“I love Asian food and I’ve never seen so many good Asian restaurants lined up,” he said.

Kiner-Falefa gets $7.5 million each season and can earn $500,000 annually in performance bonuses for plate appearances: $250,000 each for 500 and 550.

Kiermaier can earn $250,000 in roster bonuses: $150,000 for 120 days on the active roster and $100,000 for 150.

Both players have identical provisions for award bonuses that include $150,000 for winning MVP, $125,000 for second, $100,000 for third, $75,000 for fourth and $50,000 for fifth. They also would get $50,000 each for making the All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove, winning a Silver Slugger and getting voted World Series MVP. They would get $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.

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