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Craig Counsell offers insight into Cubs’ pursuit of Shohei Ohtani 

8 months agoAndy Martinez

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — One National League manager tipped his hand. 

Another denied being at the table. 

It’s all part of the wildness and secrecy surrounding Shohei Ohtani’s free agency. Information about what the once-in-a-lifetime talent wants in free agency has been sparse — it’s as well-guarded as state secrets. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts showed the first outward signs of interest from any team. 

“Clearly, Shohei’s our top priority,” Roberts told reporters during his 20-minute availability at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. “I think it went well.” 

Cubs manager Craig Counsell refuted any contact with the prized talent. 

“I have not, no,” Counsell said when asked if he had met with Ohtani. 

[WATCH: Craig Counsell meets with the media at the Winter Meetings]

What about the Cubs’ front office? 

“I have not,” he repeated. 

Counsell was asked earlier in the presser if he had met with any free agents. 

“Yeah,” he said. “Not a lot, but yes, yeah.”

[MORE: Cubs – like all of MLB – in limbo awaiting offseason dominoes to fall]

So why was Roberts so open with a meeting with Ohtani? 

“I don’t feel like lying is something I do,” he told reporters. “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. So, I don’t think myself or anyone else in our organization would want to lie about it.”

Ohtani’s future has the baseball world on pins and needles. His decision should set off a chain of events with the rest of the free agent and trade market that could provide more clarity to the offseason. 

It all rests in the hands of the game’s best player. 

“I think it’s deserved because he’s very unique,” Counsell said. “It’s really cool what’s happening. I think as a baseball fan, we all wanna know where the great players are gonna play.”

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