It’s no secret the Dodgers want Shohei Ohtani. The two-time MVP is a natural fit for one of baseball’s biggest spenders, considering he wouldn’t have to move to a new city if he teams up with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.
At this time, though, the Dodgers are far from the only team in the mix for Ohtani, who is expected to command a record-setting contract. The Blue Jays, Angels and Giants are among the aggressive suitors for Ohtani, with the Cubs reportedly now on the outskirts of the sweepstakes.
The exact details of negotiations aren’t known, and that’s largely by design. Ohtani reportedly didn’t want his free-agent process to play out as publicly as others, despite being one of the most sought-after free agents in MLB history. That’s exactly what may have gotten Dodgers manager Dave Roberts in hot water at the Winter Meetings.
Here’s what you need to know about Roberts’ comments and why he’s now defending himself.
What did Dave Roberts say about Shohei Ohtani?
Roberts met with the media at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday and made a surprising admission, revealing that the Dodgers met with Ohtani for 2-3 hours over the weekend.
“We met with Shohei, and we talked, and I think it went well,” Roberts said, revealing that the meeting took place at Dodger Stadium.
That the Dodgers met with Ohtani isn’t surprising, but a November report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan claimed Ohtani’s camp would “hold it against the interested club” if word of a meeting leaked.
This was more than just a leak — Roberts plainly stated that a meeting took place, telling reporters Ohtani was “clearly” the team’s top priority.
While it’s worth wondering how seriously Ohtani’s camp is actually taking the threat to hold a leak against an interested team, the rest of the Dodgers organization seems to be taking no chances.
General manager Brandon Gomes took a much different tone than Roberts when he met with reporters on Tuesday, acknowledging that “Dave made a comment” and saying he was surprised to hear it. Gomes refused to say whether Roberts broke a team rule by revealing the meeting.
Brandon Gomes said repeatedly he wouldn’t comment on Dave Roberts saying the Dodgers met with Shohei Ohtani. Said he can’t comment on free agents, but didn’t want to say if Roberts violated any rules in doing so. He said he was surprised when he saw the comments.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) December 5, 2023
When Gomes was asked whether he thinks Roberts’ comments will hurt the Dodgers’ pursuit of Ohtani, he said, “I have no idea.”
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Roberts’s face “became serious as he spent several moments reading a text message on his phone” after he spoke with the media, adding that Roberts “huddled with Dodgers public relations officials” at that point.
While the organization might not have been thrilled with his comments, Roberts later defended himself, saying, “I don’t feel like lying is something that I do. I was asked a question, and to be forthright in this situation, we kept it quiet.”
Roberts added that he believed word of the meeting would surface at some point even if he didn’t comment. One report Monday night revealed that Ohtani is “believed” to have met with the Blue Jays, though Toronto didn’t confirm the rumor.
Source : ESPN.com