Shohei Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, has been consistently coy about his client’s contract status, but he hinted Monday at something many in the industry had long assumed — that Ohtani will probably explore free agency, even if it does ultimately result in him returning to the Los Angeles Angels.

Balelo, who works for CAA Sports, was asked Monday if he’d be open to negotiating an extension for Ohtani during spring training.

“I’ve always been open to it,” Balelo said. “But there’s several layers to this one, and Shohei’s earned the right to play through the year, explore free agency, and we’ll see where it shakes out.”

He was later asked to clarify if that meant a spring training deal was unlikely.

“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — we’re taking one day at a time,” Balelo said. “I’m not putting the cart before the horse on this one.”

Ohtani, 28, has performed as both an elite hitter and an elite pitcher over these past two seasons and could fetch a free agent contract in the neighborhood of $500 million if he does so again.