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Jorge Castillo: Are Dave Roberts and Dodgers front office experiencing a disconnect?

Jorge Castillo, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On Tuesday, to the shock of just about anybody who cares, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts disclosed that his club indeed had a meeting with free agent Shohei Ohtani this offseason. He even offered some details.

It happened a “couple of days ago” at Dodger Stadium. He was there with a few team officials, but no Dodgers players were present. Ohtani asked questions. Roberts thought it went well.

“Clearly,” Roberts said, “Shohei is our top priority.”

The fact that the Dodgers met with Ohtani, the best baseball player in the world, and they want to sign him is not a surprise. Everyone assumed they would. That wasn’t what caused a ruckus at the Gaylord Opryland. The headline was that Roberts dared to admit there was a meeting.

“I don’t feel like lying is something I do,” Roberts 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.”

But the revelation stunned Dodgers officials. It wasn’t supposed to happen because they didn’t want to risk hurting their chances of signing Ohtani. In a vacuum, it was, at best, an unfortunate example of miscommunication. But take a step back, and a disconnect between the manager and his front office seemed evident.

 

Roberts’ unexpected transparency marked the second time in two days that he and the front office haven’t appeared on the same page. On Monday, Roberts told MLB Network that Mookie Betts will be the Dodgers’ everyday second baseman in 2024. He then reaffirmed the news with local reporters.

The assertion was a departure from what the Dodgers said about Betts before the winter meetings. The team had suggested that Betts would continue starting in right field against left-handed pitchers and at second base against righties.

Roberts’ announcement indicated a change of plans. “Everyday second baseman” means, after all, playing second base every day regardless of the opposing pitcher’s handedness.

But Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes stopped short of calling Betts the team’s everyday second baseman.

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