Shohei Ohtani, 29, is being criticized by local media in the United States for keeping his free-agent negotiations secret. They say he’s silencing an offseason that should be loud.
“The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings are supposed to be fun. At best, it’s a combination of swapping and spending. But the 2023 ‘Ohtani Delay’ version is incredibly boring. Virtually the entire industry has put everything on hold and is hoping that the sphinx-like Ohtani will pick the next team and still have a heartbeat.”
The Winter Meetings are usually the crown jewel of the Stavrig. It’s one of the few times a large number of club officials and journalists can gather in one place, and the biggest signings are often made or announced at this time. This year’s Winter Meetings, which took place in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, from February 5-7, were highly anticipated due to the presence of Otani, who is expected to sign the first $500 million-plus contract in North American professional sports.
However, after three days, there has been little news. That’s because a number of big-market teams that could make an impact on the market are in the race, tying up cash flow. As The Athletic notes, “So far, the most famous players to switch teams at the Winter Meetings are Alex Verdugo (to the New York Yankees), Jared Kelnick (to Atlanta), and Kirby Yates (to Texas). Of these, the only one most casual baseball fans will recognize is Verdugo, who was traded from Boston to the Yankees.”레모나토토
Of course, Ohtani doesn’t necessarily have to decide his team by the Winter Meetings. The problem is that the media’s hands were tied at the Winter Meetings, as Ohtani was reluctant to discuss his negotiations with the media, even when they should have been the most publicized. The frustration that had been building exploded on Nov. 6 with comments from Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. In his official press conference at the Winter Meetings, Roberts said, “I met with Ohtani for about three hours at Dodger Stadium a couple days ago, not to try to convince them, but to get to know each other better. I met with Ohtani and talked to him and I think it worked. But the final decision is up to him, and he will choose the place where he feels most comfortable.”
It was a statement of principle, but it was seen as a bombshell, as no senior club official had ever made such a public statement before. Ohtani’s agent, Nez Valero, had issued a warning not to discuss the negotiation process with the media, even going so far as to say that it could hurt his chances of signing. It was an unspoken promise that the San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Angels, all known finalists, also honored.
There was no shortage of criticism in the LA Dodger community for being frivolous. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register wrote, “I’m surprised Roberts would say that. The Dodgers have been very cautious about anything related to Ohtani and have been hiding their behavior, which makes it all the more interesting.”
However, the prevailing sentiment among local media in the United States is that the criticism of Roberts has gone too far. “I don’t think Roberts’ comments are going to change anything,” says Plunkett. I can’t imagine him going to the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco, or LA Angels. I think it’s narrowed down to the Dodgers and Toronto. If anything, I think Roberts’ comments are a sign of how confident the Dodgers are right now,” he said.
“Fans want to see some movement and follow the whereabouts of their stars,” said The Athletic. However, in the absence of any significant news, Roberts’ insignificant statement that he ‘met with Ohtani for three hours’ has been ‘blown out of proportion’ and has generated an excessive amount of interest,” the paper cautions.
“Nothing Mr. Roberts said violated the rules of collective bargaining. If Roberts made a mistake, it was in making public comments while paying unreasonably close attention to the Ohtani camp’s request for confidentiality. But that doesn’t mean anyone seriously thinks Ohtani would pass on the Los Angeles Dodgers,” he defended.
Ohtani’s strategy of mystique when it comes to big decisions is the work of his agent, Valero. He did so when heading to the majors in the winter of 2017, and again this season when he refused to give a definitive answer regarding his elbow surgery after the season. He’s not the only agent who loves the concept of mystery, but in this case, some say it’s gone too far.
The Athletic writes, “Valero’s dedication to client secrecy extends from not revealing the type of elbow surgery to not telling us the name of Ohtani’s dog. The bigger problem is that the baseball offseason doesn’t have a deadline. At a time when hundreds of journalists gather to cover baseball, players, agents, and teams put off decisions as long as they can,” he said.
“In particular, baseball doesn’t have a salary cap like other North American sports, so it can’t consistently deliver a frenetic offseason. Shouldn’t one of Stovrig’s goals be to revitalize the industry?” “It’s not just ballet that does this. Ohtani is a unique player with a unique personality, and we understand that. But just as Major League Baseball is changing the rules of the game to increase the entertainment value of the sport, the “Ohtani delay” issue highlights the need to do something to make the offseason more appealing. The Winter Meetings aren’t fun anymore,” he said.