Dodgers Pleased After In-Person Meeting With ‘Top Priority’ Shohei Ohtani

Manager Dave Roberts revealed the Los Angeles Dodgers met with Shohei Ohtani in person at Dodger Stadium last week, becoming the first team official to openly speak on the record about free agency matters regarding the two-way superstar.

Early into the offseason it was reported Ohtani’s agency informed teams it would be held against them if information about discussions leaked. That the Dodgers met with Ohtani was not a surprise, and it could be argued the info did not become public because of a leak due to it being on the record.

“Am I able to say that?” Roberts initially answered when asked if he was able to say whether or not the Dodgers had met with Ohtani.

“It’s a good possibility. I think that, yeah, we met with him. I would like to be honest, and so we met with Shohei. We talked and I think it went well. I think it went well. But at the end of the day he’s his own man and he’s going to do what’s best for himself, where he feels most comfortable.”

Roberts said the meeting with Ohtani lasted multiple hours.

“I don’t know if it was more of a pitch,” Roberts described the session. “I think it was more of just sort of getting more familiar with him. I think that he had questions for us, just trying to get more of the landscape. But being in this league for six years, he’s got a pretty good idea of the Dodgers, what we’re about, the city itself.

“So, for me, and speaking for our guys, it was just a pleasure to get to spend some time with him.”

Roberts’ comments came on the heels of reports that Ohtani visited the Toronto Blue Jays’ Spring Training facility. The Blue Jays, Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants are perceived finalists.

It’s believed Ohtani recently spent time at Oracle Park as well, but the Giants may be more focused on Yoshinobu Yamamoto despite the New York Yankees potentially holding an edge.

An initial belief that Ohtani could sign during the Winter Meetings in Nashville has since given way to a more drawn-out process that is complicating free agency for the Dodgers and interested teams as they remain in somewhat of a holding pattern.

But it’s a situation the Dodgers are not taking issue with while looking to land their biggest target.

“This is obviously a front office, baseball operation situation,” Roberts said. “They’re working tirelessly, and there’s a lot of scenarios and ways that this could go. But clearly Shohei’s our top priority. So I still think that we’ve got a lot of people working on other things ultimately to be the best ballclub we can be.”

Why did Dave Roberts reveal Shohei Ohtani meeting?

Unlike Dave Roberts, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins and manager John Schneider, along with Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and Angels manager Ron Washington all declined to discuss their respective team’s interest and pursuit of Ohtani.

“I don’t feel like lying is something that I do,” Roberts explained. “I was asked a question, and yeah, I think to be forthright in this situation, we kept it quiet. But I think that it’s going to come out at some point that we met, and it obviously already has. So, I don’t think myself or anyone in our organization would want to lie about it.”

Roberts added he believes the Dodgers still have respected the wishes of Ohtani and agent Nez Balelo by not divulging what was discussed.

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