That said, from what I've seen so far, it seems as if most of the Aikido strikes were intended to be blocked so that you can begin to grapple your opponent, they are simply baits, but I would think that there is more to it than just that.
Well, yes. For one thing, in typical practice, the person who attacks with a strike is not the person who is going to end up "winning" -- ask someone at your dojo what the words "uke" and "nage" mean. For another thing, aikido is not grappling and the objective in an aikido encounter is not to get to a grappling situation.
This is where beginner mind will serve you well, if you let it. Your data points come from another style. Spend some time acquiring some aikido data points, without trying to analyze them or fit them into a framework of what you already know. Once you have a good collection of data points, a shape will start to emerge. Just let it happen in its own time.