Baseball sensation Shohei Ohtani had a meeting with Dave Roberts, manager of the LA Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, in Los Angeles. After winning his AL MVP award, there is a lot of anticipation regarding Ohtani’s upcoming contract negotiations which are expected to set a new record by surpassing $500 million.

Roberts held his cards close to his chest regarding details about the meeting but let some information slip. Their meeting reportedly lasted two to three hours, leaving Roberts feeling good. “Cleary, Shohei’s our top priority,” he said at the winter meetings. “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.” Roberts hesitated to say more, adding, “We want to respect Shohei’s wishes as far as being private but obviously people talk. I don’t think I need to share what we talked about.” He also acknowledged that Ohtani “has a very good poker face.”

Ohtani has not spoken with reporters about the rumors. He led the AL this year with 44 home runs and hit .304 with 96 RBIs, eight triples, and 20 stolen bases for the Los Angeles Angels. He was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts on the mound, striking out 167 and 55 in 132 innings. Ohtani’s 2023 season ended in September due to an oblique injury that will keep him out of the game until 2025. He had surgery on September 19 to fix a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. 

Before signing with the Angels for a $2,315,000 bonus, Ohtani met with the Dodgers in 2017. “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.” 

As Ohtani has now lived in Los Angeles while playing for the Angels for the past six years, he is no longer unfamiliar with the city or country. Before his contract with the Angels, Ohtani played for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, a professional baseball team based in his native Japan. Ohtani was born and raised in Iwate in Northern Japan, where he played baseball through high school before going pro.

Ohtani was paid $3 million, $5.5 million, and $30 million during his three seasons of arbitration eligibility with the Angels. His new contract is expected to top that of Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who was signed for a whopping $426.5 million in 2019.