Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed that the team met with Shohei Ohtani “a couple days ago,” but that comment alone may have an impact on landing the highly sought after free agent superstar.
Ohtani owns MLB free agency talk, especially at the league’s Winter Meetings in Nashville this week. But the courting of Ohtani by teams that want his once-in-a-lifetime abilities on the mound and in the batter’s box has been mum from prospective clubs.
That is until Roberts dropped what’s become a bomb in free agent rumors despite it being a simple confirmation that a meeting occurred.
Why? Well, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported earlier this week if Ohtani’s camp caught wind of a meeting with a team going public, he “will hold it against the interested club.”
Now, this wasn’t just a rumor from a reporter. The Dodgers’ manager was outright in saying it happened, and added, “I think it went well.”
Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes was asked about the meeting due to Roberts’ comments, which he acknowledged, saying, “Dave made a comment.” He was reportedly surprised that occurred, but when asked if Roberts’ comments would hurt the team’s pursuit, Gomes was succinct.
“I have no idea,” he responded.
Roberts explained why he believed his comments about the meeting weren’t a big deal.
“I don’t feel like lying is something I do,” he told the LA Times. “I was asked a question. And yeah, I think to be forthright in this situation, we kept it quiet. But it’s gonna come out at some point that we met. … So I don’t think myself or anyone else in our organization would want to lie about it.”
Gomes would not make any comments about the Ohtani meeting.
The Dodgers are one of the frontrunners to land Ohtani, who is looking for a record-setting contract in free agency after winning his second AL MVP with the Los Angeles Angels after belting 44 homers and slashing .304/.412/.654 with a 1.066 OPS, while also pitching to a 3.14 ERA with 167 strikeouts over 132 innings.
Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery in September, though, which should keep him off the mound until 2025. However, Ohtani is expected to be free of any restrictions hitting for the 2024 season.
Other teams in the running for Ohtani are the Toronto Blue Jays, who reportedly met with him at their spring training facility in Florida on Monday. Blue Jays manager John Schneider was coy when asked about the situation, though.
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“It’s exciting that we’re in the mix for it,” he told TSN. “There’s a lot of different ways to make our team better, but he’s obviously a great player.”
The San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs were also mentioned as potential aggressors in the Ohtani sweepstakes.
With the Winter Meetings in full swing, we’ll see if a record-breaking deal that Ohtani approves of comes this week. But, as we saw with players like Aaron Judge last season, free agency decisions, especially from those at the top of the game, may need some more time to figure out before the new year begins.
And Roberts will hope his comments don’t affect Ohtani’s decision when that time comes.
Source: Fox News
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