NASHVILLE, Tenn. >> Shohei Ohtani met with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few days ago at Dodger Stadium, manager Dave Roberts revealed today at the winter meetings.
The two-way star is expected to command a record contract of $500 million-plus on the free agent market coming off his second AL MVP award in three seasons.
“He has a very good poker face,” Roberts said.
The meeting lasted two-to-three hours.
“We want to respect Shohei’s wishes as far as being private,” Roberts said, “but obviously people talk. I don’t think I need to share what we talked about.”
Roberts at first hesitated before giving a few details.
“It’s a good possibility,” he said. “Yeah, we met with him. I don’t want to — I’d like to be honest and so we met with Shohei and we talked and I think it went well. I think it went well. But at the end of the day, he’s his own man and he’s going to do what’s best for himself, where he feels most comfortable.”
Ohtani led the AL with 44 homers and hit .304 with 96 RBIs, eight triples and 20 stolen bases for the Los Angeles Angels in a season that ended Sept. 3 because of an oblique injury.
He was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts on the mound, striking out 167 and walking 55 in 132 innings before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Aug. 23. He had surgery on Sept. 19 that will keep him off the mound until 2025.
Ohtani has not spoken with reporters since Aug. 9, failing to get on a conference call after his MVP award.
“I don’t know if it was more of a pitch,” Roberts said. “I think it was more of just sort of getting familiar, more familiar with him. I think that he had questions for us, just trying to get more of the landscape. But being in this league for six years, he’s got a pretty good idea of the Dodgers, what we’re about, the city itself. And so for me, and speaking for our guys, it was just a pleasure to get to spend some time with him.”
Ohtani met with the Dodgers before signing with the Angels in December 2017 for a $2,315,000 bonus — because of his age, he was restricted by the amount of teams’ international signing bonus pools.
“I think in ‘17, I think it was more — of more of an overview, and you’re selling — more of a sell on things that he didn’t really know about: the country, the city, the organization, potential role,” Roberts said. “And I think that in this situation — not trying to speak for him — but it’s a little bit more narrow on what his desires are as far as teams, and I don’t think the sell needed to be as large. I think it was more of just kind of feeling, trying to feel what everyday life would look like.”
Ohtani earned $3 million, $5.5 million and $30 million in his three seasons of arbitration eligibility. His contract is expected to top the $426.5 million, 12-year contract of Angels outfielder Mike Trout that began in 2019.