The 2023 MLB Winter Meetings began this week with the entire sport focused on Shohei Ohtani and his impending decision that has largely held up free agency to this point.
The Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays were reported as the group of finalists in the Ohtani sweepstakes as baseball executives and agents began to arrive at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The San Francisco Giants were said to be on the periphery, and the Atlanta Braves started to re-enter the picture but the Blue Jays then were reported as potentially making progress toward signing Ohtani.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers front office not staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort has some agents believing it is related to pursuing Ohtani, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney:
The bulk of the Dodgers' traveling party is staying at a hotel other than the sprawling Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, sparking some conspiracy theories among some agents (about Ohtani, mostly). But the Dodgers have had this arrangement in place for weeks, to…
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 4, 2023
Ohtani’s free agency has been shrouded in secrecy, and it was reported he would eliminate teams from consideration if there were leaks about their meetings or discussions.
By not staying at the Winter Meetings host hotel, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager conceivably would have more privacy. Though, it was previously reported Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo, were meeting with teams at the Creative Artists Agency building in the days leading up to the Winter Meetings.
Furthermore, it’s unknown if Ohtani or Balelo are in Nashville this week.
Are Toronto Blue Jays signing Shohei Ohtani?
Speculation surfaced Monday night that the Blue Jays were potentially advancing in talks to sign Ohtani due to media availability time and location being changed with general manager Ross Atkins.
That came shortly after it was suggested the Giants started making progress in the days after Ohtani purportedly visited Oracle Park.
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