It was the substance of the conversation during the four-hour meal that helped convince Huston Street to commit to the Angels for another two or three years, even if that meant accepting a little less money than he was seeking and forgoing potentially bigger riches in free agency.
The veteran closer on Wednesday agreed to a two-year, $18-million contract extension with a $10-million club option that could keep Street in Anaheim through 2018. The groundwork for the deal was laid in spring training over spicy yellowtail and shrimp and a bottle of wine at Sushi Roku.
"It wasn't all baseball — a lot of it was about life and kind of sharing," Street, 31, said of the dinner. "That really set the framework. I detailed what I wanted in years and average annual value. He detailed where he thought the organization was."
When Street arrived at spring training and was acting as his own agent, he said he wanted a deal between what closer David Robertson got from the Chicago White Sox (four years, $46 million) and setup man Andrew Miller got from the New York Yankees (four years, $36 million) last winter.
When the season began, Street, who is making $7 million this season, retained agent Alan Hendricks. Street settled on an extension that will pay $8 million in 2016, $9 million in 2017 and $10 million or a $1-million buyout in 2018. If the option is picked up, he'll make $34 million from 2015-2018.
"You get to this stage of your career and you realize how precious winning is," said Street, who has converted 286 of 332 save opportunities in 11 years. "Then you realize how some organizations are more committed to winning than others. To me, it's clear how committed this organization is to winning.
"It makes my job that much more meaningful because I'm playing for something bigger than statistics or money. I want that ultimate prize, the World Series. … It's very difficult to play in August and September when you're out of it."
Street, acquired from San Diego for four minor leaguers last July 18, has never been a free agent. The thought of hitting the open market in November, he admitted, held some intrigue.
"But at the same time," he said, "the point of free agency is to end up where you want to be."
As Street sized up the talent in his clubhouse and the franchise's commitment to winning — as well as the Sunset Beach home he's renting with a view of the ocean — it was clear he was right where he wanted to be.
"You can't let your ego get involved," Street said. "You have to make decisions based on reality and what you really want. If all you want is money, that's one thing. But I put a lot of value on a lot of other things. First and foremost is the happiness of my family.
"Second is my loyalty to winning. I love my teammates, but this is a talent league, and I told them if I didn't think they were worth a hill of beans, I wouldn't have signed this contract. … I was closing for the team I want to close for. So the allure of free agency wasn't as exciting to me."
When Dipoto went back to his office after dinner that night in Arizona, he "threw the receipt on the table," he said. "It was pure fascination."
If an extravagant dinner was part of the price to secure a lock-down closer, it was worth it.
"If we have a lead going into the ninth inning, my pulse rate is the same as if there's no score in the first," Dipoto said. "There's something about the calm Huston brings. … There hasn't been a more consistent closer in the last few years."
Street's acquisition pushed Joe Smith back to a setup role and solidified a bullpen that keyed the Angels' run to a major league-best 98-64 record in 2014. Street has a 3.07 earned-run average and 11 saves this season.
"As a manager, your IQ is tied to your bullpen," Manager Mike Scioscia said, "and a guy like Huston has a history of making his manager look smart."