What Shohei Ohtani's agent said and didn't say at Spring Training
Shohei Ohtani's free agency is going to be a big topic of discussion throughout the 2023 season unless an extension is signed. Ohtani being the best player in baseball should be talked about often, so there's nothing wrong with that. We really just have to hope it doesn't distract him or the Los Angeles Angels from achieving their goal of getting back to the postseason.
Ohtani has spoken in front of the media already and didn't say much. His agent was spotted talking to Angels General Manager Perry Minasian and also spoke to the media. Like Ohtani, he didn't say too much.
What Shohei Ohtani's agent said and didn't say yesterday
Nez Balelo, Ohtani's agent, predictably didn't say much of anything. He reitterated that this is Ohtani's last year under contract and that if no extension is reached, he will hit free agency. He was basically repeating what everyone already knows.
Balelo didn't go into detail on anything, but he did say they're open to anything. Anything can include an extension, and it can also include hitting free agency.
The one thing Balelo did say is that it'd be harder to negotiate during the season for obvious reasons. This makes me believe that if an extension were to ever come into fruition, it'd have to be before Opening Day. I personally believe that if an extension were to take place it'd have to come before Ohtani goes to the WBC.
As Jack Magruder of MLB.com wrote, Balelo did not give any clarity on the state of talks or what has been discussed, but that does tell me there has been at least some sort of dialogue. Ohtani isn't fully closed-minded to an extension. That has not been said, that's me reading between the lines.
The Angels are known to work quietly and Ohtani's camp has been wanting things in regard to his future beyond the 2023 season to remain quiet as well. It's possible they're deep in talks, and it's possible they haven't talked at all. There's really no way of knowing because nobody is saying anything.
What's important to point out here is nothing has been said. Any headline that says Ohtani or his agent said he's going to hit free agency and an extension won't happen is false. Any headline that says Ohtani is interested in a contract extension is also false. We know that Ohtani is open to anything as his agent said, but nothing specific has been said.
All we can do right now is wait and hope for the best possible outcome for the Angels and Ohtani.