One Pundit on the Chicago Cubs Trading for Shohei Ohtani: “It Wouldn’t Surprise Me”

Allow yourself to get excited. I don’t think any of this is crazy.

Let me say some things up front.

The Chicago Cubs have been surprisingly solid over the second half of the season. The Cubs also have a whole lot of quality depth in the upper minor leagues and in reserve in the big leagues. The Cubs also are lacking big-time impact players on the roster or in the upper minors. The Cubs also have a lot of capital available – money and prospect – to make additions this offseason.

To me, that means the Cubs should be viewed as a prime team candidate for significant additions this offseason. I get that a lot of folks will take issue with that statement, conjuring vague references to limited spending in the last two seasons (ignoring the payroll levels from 2016 through 2020) and a lack of talent at the big league level (ignore the pockets of talent, the importance of depth, and the fact that if you add impact players over multiple years you can, you know, get better). I think those folks are wrong. Simply put.

Anyway, that’s all prelude to the Shohei Ohtani conversations that are coming this offseason – despite rumors that the Angels, even in the face of a sale, will not trade Ohtani before his last year of team control – and my opinion that the Cubs make as much sense for a trade as any team out there.

I am not alone in that thinking:

After referencing the Chicago Cubs’ initial pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, in which they were among the finalists and “a pretty compelling place” to Ohtani’s camp, Jon Morosi laid out the possibility and the fit:

“(I)t wouldn’t surprise me if Shohei were to be traded to the Cubs, and you look around and this is to me a compelling time to join the Cubs. They’re going to get better. They’ve already been pretty good through the last couple months. There are better days ahead for the Cubs,” Morosi told Parkins & Spiegel. “And I think if Ohtani were to come to Chicago and look around, I feel better about the Cubs’ next five years than I do the Angels’ next five years. And you look at the division, and Milwaukee is sort of in a perpetual cycle of having to make trades like the one they did with (Josh) Hader. The Cardinals, I think you look at their roster, they might turn over here in the next couple years as well. Obviously, there are some prominent retirements happening for them. I think there’s an opening there for the Cubs. I really do. They’re going to be a very compelling team to keep (an eye on).”

I’m sure some of it is my homer-fan desire to see Ohtani on the Cubs, but that all does also strike me as correct. And that’s a national guy laying it out, not a Chicago-centric pundit.

In trading for Ohtani, the Cubs would be hitting two enormous and difficult boxes to check: they need an ace and they need a big-time impact lefty bat. Getting them both in one player is a dream scenario, and is why Ohtani is so uniquely valuable.

That, in turn, though is why the price tag in trade would be significant, even for only one year of team control (and it’s likely to be a pricey year in arbitration, relatively speaking).

Morosi speculated that the Angels would want a quality emerging young talent like Justin Steele plus a haul of prospects on top of that, and, if so, he thought that might be too much to be worth it.

He might be right on that, depending on the prospects in the deal, but let me say this: the Cubs wouldn’t be trading for Shohei Ohtani at this time if they weren’t incredibly intent on trying to extend him right away. You don’t “pay” for that in your trade package, mind you, but if you felt an extension was likely, you might be more comfortable with a trade cost that otherwise makes you squirm.

And here’s where some of you say: just wait a year. Don’t give up a ton in trade. Just wait until after 2023, and sign Ohtani to a monster contract in free agency.

I get the logic, but I can’t shake the feeling – as it was with guys like Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor – that if Ohtani is traded this offseason, he’s not going to reach free agency. Any team ponying up to get Ohtani this winter is going to be hell bent on extending him thereafter. He’s such a transcendent talent that he kind of defies any other logic – you pay him whatever it takes to secure the next, say, six or seven seasons. Heck, if it takes longer than that (it will), then you sign that deal today, knowing that the back-end may be rough if he starts to break down.

Throw in the fact that the Cubs were a previous finalist for Ohtani, and perhaps there is a little more comfort there that he would be interested in an extension? This is sounding very good and realistic to me, even if you could never call something like this likely.

There is risk, of course. Tons of it. And there are nits if you want to pick them. Ohtani is no longer that young, as he’ll turn 29 next summer. He’s already had one major arm surgery, and a lot of his offensive value comes from his incredible speed, which is likely to start to turn. The bat this year has been closer to “great” than “elite.” The Angels have used him as a DH-only, and you might not be willing to even try him in the outfield because of the pitching value. (I don’t have many nits to pick on the pitching, itself, though, as Ohtani has really broken out this year on that side of the ball. He’s such a freaking studly ace.)

Absorbing a lot of risk is the only way to get a player like Ohtani, however. A guy who can impact you SIGNIFICANTLY on both sides of the ball. A guy who should rightly be the MVP any year he’s healthy, since he’s giving you two times the stud in a single roster spot. A guy who is an international MEGA-STAR. A guy who could be associated with your organization forever if he puts together another decade of greatness from here.

I could go on, but you get the point. Something something risk it all for Ohtani something something.

For the Cubs, where they are right now, Ohtani is going to make sense, especially if the designs are there – and the will – to pursue a huge extension.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

more cubs news

Matt Chapman’s Deal with the Giants and the Cubs’ Third Base Options

I was asleep when word broke around midnight that Matt Chapman was signing with the San Francisco Giants. So I woke up to a buncha texts about the news as I rolled over to my phone, and I had an...

Cubs vs Dodgers: Lineups, Pitching Matchup, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

*HOMAGE is excited to reissue the iconic CUBS STARTER SATIN JACKET in an exclusive limited edition release. A certified nineties throwback, these exclusive vintage-inspired jackets are built for the dugout, with all the classic details of the original. Get your...

The First Spring Training Injury Hits Ian Happ’s Hamstring

Fffffffffffffflip. I know this happens every year. I know you can set your watch by it. I know you have to just hope that it's not a super major injury to a super major player. But I still hate it...

Busch and Bellinger, Lefties in the Lineup, NL Central Starters, Fun Was Had, and Other Cubs Bullets

Matt Chapman thoughts and comments forthcoming in a bit (thanks to Michael for jumping on the news last night - stop it with these late night moves!). I want to set that aside as a separate matter, hit up the...

REPORT: Matt Chapman Signs (Another Opt-Out Heavy Deal) with the Giants

Cody Bellinger and the Chicago Cubs came to an opt-out heavy agreement last weekend. And tonight, another one of the Boras Four comes off the board. This time, it's free agent third baseman Matt Chapman heading to the San Francisco...

Spring Training Miscellany: Comeback Cubs, Caissie Crushes, Cuas Cruises, Cosmic Chaos, More

The young Cubs did the comeback thing AGAIN today. It's just Spring Training, none of it matters, and so forth, but it's still really fun to see these guys doing it. You can really dream on the future, even as...

I Dug Deep on the Cubs 2024 Schedule (And I Like What I See)

Finally, with Cody Bellinger in the fold, we can start focusing more seriously on the season ahead. So today, I thought we'd take a look at the Cubs 2024 schedule. You can flip through the Cubs 2024 schedule right here...

Cubs Tentatively Looking to Rotate Players at Designated Hitter

The Chicago Cubs won't be naming "a" designated hitter any time soon, if ever. Very few teams these days have a dedicated guy in that spot, and Craig Counsell was suggesting very early in the offseason that his preference is...

Cubs vs White Sox: Lineups, Pitching Matchup, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

  CUBS LINEUP — This afternoon, Justin Steele will take the mound for his first start of the spring. He's got a very big season ahead of him, entering the year with MUCH higher expectations than 2023, but none of...

Dansby Swanson Shows Off His Gold Glove Infield Routine

Dansby Swanson is known for, among other things, his superlative shortstop defense. And, more specifically, he's known for his incredibly consistent ability to complete plays. He's just so sure-handed, so steady, and so capable. You don't get that way on...

Latest News

Ladd McConkey Combine Results: 40-Yard Dash, Profile, Scouting Report

Ladd McConkey, a wide receiver from Georgia, has emerged as one of the top prospects for the 2024 NFL draft. He is currently participating in the on-field drills, and athletic testing at the NFL combine after impressing draft scouts at...

Canucks vs. Ducks Prediction: Picks, Live Odds and Moneyline – Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Vancouver Canucks travel to face the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, and are -230 favorites on the moneyline, with the home team a heavy underdog at +190.Canucks vs. Ducks Favorite, Moneyline, TotalFavorite: Canucks (-230)Underdog: Ducks (+190)Total: 6.5Best Canucks vs. Ducks...

Capitals vs. Coyotes Prediction: Odds, Picks, Best Bets – Sunday, March 3, 2024

The oddsmakers give the edge to the Washington Capitals on home ice (-142) over the Arizona Coyotes (+120) when they play on Sunday, March 3 at 1:00 PM ET.Capitals vs. Coyotes Favorite, Moneyline, TotalFavorite: Capitals (-142)Underdog: Coyotes (+120)Total: 6Best Capitals...

Kings vs. Devils Prediction: Live Odds, Stats, History and Picks – Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Los Angeles Kings welcome the New Jersey Devils on March 3 at 3:30 PM ET, and are -125 favorites, with the away team at +105.Kings vs. Devils Favorite, Moneyline, TotalFavorite: Kings (-125)Underdog: Devils (+105)Total: 6.5Best Kings vs. Devils Promo...

Presbyterian vs. Charleston Southern Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Presbyterian Blue Hose (13-17, 5-10 Big South) are at home in Big South play against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (10-18, 6-9 Big South) on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 2:00 PM ET. The Blue Hose are favored by 7.5...

Minnesota vs. Penn State Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Penn State Nittany Lions (14-15, 8-10 Big Ten) are underdogs (by 6.5 points) to end a three-game road losing streak when they visit the Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-11, 8-9 Big Ten) on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 3:15 PM...

Iowa State vs. UCF Prediction: Picks and Betting Odds – Saturday, March 2, 2024

Big 12 foes square off when the No. 8 Iowa State Cyclones (22-6, 11-4 Big 12) visit the UCF Knights (15-12, 6-9 Big 12) at Addition Financial Arena, beginning at 4:00 PM ET on Saturday, March 2, 2024. The Knights...

Weber State vs. Northern Arizona Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Weber State Wildcats (19-10, 10-6 Big Sky) are heavily favored (by 12.5 points) to continue a three-game home win streak when they host the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (14-16, 7-9 Big Sky) on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 4:00 PM...

Grambling vs. Florida A&M Prediction: Picks and Betting Odds – Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Florida A&M Rattlers (6-20, 4-11 SWAC) are heavy underdogs (+10) as they try to stop a four-game road losing streak when they visit the Grambling Tigers (14-13, 11-3 SWAC) on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly...

Duke vs. Virginia Prediction: Picks and Betting Odds – Saturday, March 2, 2024

The No. 10 Duke Blue Devils (22-6, 13-4 ACC) host the Virginia Cavaliers (21-8, 12-6 ACC) after winning five straight home games. The Blue Devils are favored by 9.5 points in the matchup, which tips at 6:00 PM ET on...

more cubs news