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Dipoto discusses Ohtani on The Wheelhouse

Mariners GM weighs in on recruiting process in weekly podcast
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jerry Dipoto has been relatively quiet about the process involving the recruitment of Shohei Ohtani since the two-way Japanese star opted to sign with the rival Angels, but the Mariners' general manager acknowledged the disappointment of that decision on Wednesday in the latest edition of The Wheelhouse podcast, saying his club benefited from just going through the intense process.

"We were very hopeful," Dipoto said. "We felt we'd put our best put forward. We felt we had a lot going for us, from the fit on the roster, to the city, to the organization's history with Japanese superstars. We felt like it was a good fit, and obviously he opted in a different direction.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jerry Dipoto has been relatively quiet about the process involving the recruitment of Shohei Ohtani since the two-way Japanese star opted to sign with the rival Angels, but the Mariners' general manager acknowledged the disappointment of that decision on Wednesday in the latest edition of The Wheelhouse podcast, saying his club benefited from just going through the intense process.

"We were very hopeful," Dipoto said. "We felt we'd put our best put forward. We felt we had a lot going for us, from the fit on the roster, to the city, to the organization's history with Japanese superstars. We felt like it was a good fit, and obviously he opted in a different direction.

"It was a dejecting phone call. But as I said on the phone line and meant sincerely, this is what we do in baseball. You move on. We've already shifted gears. We've opted in other directions ourselves. And hopefully now as we really draw to a conclusion here at the Winter Meetings, we're closing in on what our final 25-man roster will look like, and we're very comfortable with our team as is. We're disappointed we didn't land Shohei, but there were 29 teams that didn't, and we were just one of the 29."

The 23-year-old Ohtani spent two-hour interview sessions in Los Angeles with executives from seven teams that made his final cut, including the Mariners, but his only visit to any of the team's stadiums was a trip to nearby Anaheim.

"We were hopeful we could attract him to Seattle [for a tour]," Dipoto said. "We felt like that would certainly be a selling point for us, to try to get him to come into the Mariner family. But again, that was his process and his choice. He set it up the way he wanted it to go and apparently answered the questions he wanted answered."

In the end, Dipoto acknowledged nobody understood exactly what Ohtani was looking for as he went through the recruiting process.

"I think any time a human being is sorting through and kind of fleshing out a lot of detail and trying to make a big life decision like that, you never truly know," he said. "But whether from Shohei or the people from CAA, they were pretty clear. This was going to be a decision that he made based on where he felt most comfortable and felt the next best step was for him.

"It wasn't about the money, and clearly that was the end result. It really wasn't about the money. I give him credit for having sat through the multiple-hour interviews he did with clubs. I think it's great he had the opportunity to see under the hood of 30 organizations. I think that makes him about the only person walking the Earth right now who has looked behind the curtain with every club."

Dipoto also talked at length on his latest weekly podcast about the Winter Meetings that are wrapping up, provided an update on reliever David Phelps and his thoughts on new center fielder Dee Gordon, discussed the dynamics between general managers around the game and told a personal story about interactions with one of his childhood heroes, Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners