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Dave Roberts confirms Dodgers met with Shohei Ohtani, to the surprise of team officials

Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Dodgers held a meeting with two-way star Shohei Ohtani at Dodger Stadium last week, manager Dave Roberts revealed Tuesday at Major League Baseball's winter meetings, marking the biggest on-the-record development in a free-agent pursuit that had previously been shrouded in secrecy and speculation.

"Yeah, we met with him," Roberts said. "I like to be honest, so yeah, we met with Shohei."

According to Roberts, Dodgers officials spent two to three hours with Ohtani, who last month won his second American League Most Valuable Player award with the Angels.

Roberts described the session as lower-key than the sides' meeting in 2017, when Ohtani was first coming to MLB from Japan. No Dodgers players were present. And, while Roberts was unsure of exactly what Ohtani thought, he remained confident in the Dodgers' ability to land him.

"Clearly," Roberts said, "Shohei is our top priority."

Since the start of Ohtani's free agency last month, fellow MLB managers and executives had been wary of even speaking about the star player by name — let alone discussing the details of any meetings their teams might have had.

 

The belief around the industry has been that such leaks could be held against teams.

Roberts, however, said he wanted to answer honestly to this winter meeting's most pressing question.

"I don't feel like lying is something I do," he said. "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."

The Dodgers' meeting with Ohtani was not the first to become public knowledge.

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