Nez Balelo Explains Shohei Ohtani Taking ‘Strategic’ Approach With Free Agency

Early into free agency it was reported Nez Balelo of Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and Shohei Ohtani had informed teams if there were leaks about their meetings or other details made public, that it would be held against them as the two-way superstar mulled over his future.

The clandestine nature of Ohtani’s free agency created more of a fervor than what already would have existed, and it kicked into overdrive when it was reported the 29-year-old decided to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays. That was followed by Ohtani purportedly being on a flight bound for Toronto to finalize the agreement.

Instead, Ohtani had not yet made his decision, which ultimately was to sign with the Dodgers on a 10-year, $700 million contract. The Dodgers held a press conference at Dodger Stadium this week to formally introduce Ohtani, who was accompanied on stage by his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara and Balelo.

Joe Davis hosted, and Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman offered opening remarks. Following the press conference, Balelo addressed reporters to offer a clarification on speculation and address criticism that surrounded Ohtani’s free agency.

“It was important that you all respect and appreciated the approach that we took. It was well thought-out and strategic thoughts to all of this, because the thing we didn’t want was to create interference and distractions to what we were trying to accomplish,” Balelo explained. “That was really, really important.

“I know there were some things written — I tried to stay away from it — about the approach we were taking and being secretive, quiet and all that. We did that for a reason, because we felt it was the right thing to do to get the best results. So again, I just want to say thank you to all of you and we appreciate most of you who were respectful to that. It was just something we had to do.

“It’s also a soft apology as well, because I know you all have jobs to do and I know you were trying to report things, and the people you answer to were asking, ‘Where’s information?’ You weren’t getting it from me, you weren’t getting it from Shohei and you weren’t getting it from Ippei.

“So I know it put all of you in a really difficult spot, but again, I appreciate and respect the fact you allowed us to do what we needed to do, and you allowed me to do my job. A lot of you have dealt with me through the years. This is how I do business. It’s always been this way. It’s nothing new. Again, it’s just the way we do it. It’s my culture, it’s the way we do it with my agency and it’s just who I am. So thank you for that.”

Nez Balelo addresses Shohei Ohtani’s West Coast preference

Among the rampant speculation involving Ohtani was that he enjoyed Southern California and was committed to remaining in the region.

“Didn’t come into play. It did not come into play,” Balelo asserted. “I can honestly tell you it was not a conversation that Shohei and I had, where he was like, ‘I have to stay on the West Coast, or I want to talk about teams on the East, or let’s go to the middle of the country.’

“So just know that this decision was not based on location.”

Balelo also dismissed the notion that the presence of a large Japanese community in the greater Los Angeles area led to Ohtani signing with the Dodgers.

“When you put that into perspective, there’s Japanese communities all over the country and all over the world,” he said. “It wasn’t just so much here, even though it’s big here, but it wasn’t the decision.”

Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!