Chicago Cubs Are the “Sleeper” in the Shohei Ohtani Chase
The Shohei Ohtani free agency circus is going to be unlike anything we’ve seen over the past few years. Heck, given how weak the free agent class is overall, and given that Ohtani is as unicorn-y as they come, it might be the single most wild and unpredictable free agency in baseball history.
Thus, you’re going to see rumors about it all season long. Just a reality.
This one, tied specifically to the Chicago Cubs, comes from Bob Nightengale at USA Today:
It’s no secret the Dodgers are saving money to sign (Shohei Ohtani) as a free agent. The Padres have shown no hesitancy spending with the big boys. Giants president Larry Baer had fans chanting his name before their home opener. Speculation grew when Ohtani sprinted towards Ichiro Suzuki in Seattle to express his admiration.
The New York Mets, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies are the heavy hitters if Ohtani changes his mind and wants to leave the comforts out West.
Yet, the sleeper in the Ohtani free-agent frenzy, several baseball executives predict, are the Chicago Cubs.
They were the only team outside the AL West and NL West that were on Ohtani’s original list when he left Japan six years ago, and certainly, they have plenty of money stored up to pay Ohtani whatever he desires.
“That’s the team no one talks about,’’ one AL executive said. “I’m telling you, that’s the team to watch out for. I could easily see him going there. We’ll see what happens, but that’s my call.’’
Hey, I’ll take any mention I can get, because Ohtani is the most transformative player available, and makes for incredible entertainment on and off the field. The things I would do to have him on the Cubs. The mind reels.
Until and unless we get some significant new data points in the season and/or in the rumors ahead, my landing place on all things Cubs-Ohtani is going to look something like this …
Do I believe that the Chicago Cubs really want Shohei Ohtani? Of course.
Do I believe that the Cubs will have meetings with him and his camp and try to see if there’s a way to make it happen? I really do.
But do I believe the Cubs and the Ricketts Family are going to offer up the probably-over-$500-million necessary to actually get a deal done? I just don’t think we have any indication they would.
The money is there (in both revenue and VERY limited long-term commitments right now), but the willingness to extend to that level of risk – and cover it over with more spending in future years if and when Ohtani’s performance no longer comes close to matching his $50+ million salary – is where I have my doubts.
So you get involved and you stay involved because there’s no reason not to – hey, maybe he secretly LOVES the Cubs and Chicago – but when the rubber meets the road, I think it’s more likely than not that Ohtani has more compelling offers in hand from spots where he would be just as happy to sign. I hate that I feel that way, and I’ll still be PRAYING TO THE BASEBALL GODS that I’m wrong when free agency comes.
Does all that mean the Cubs could be a “sleeper” on Ohtani? I guess. They certainly aren’t going to be described by anyone as among the favorites come November, so if they’re involved at all, it would have to be as some more-under-the-radar type.