Cubs still have a shot with Shohei Ohtani
Jayne Kamin Oncea - USA Today Sports

Cubs still have a shot with Shohei Ohtani

by - Staff Writer -

The Chicago Cubs have alerted the rest of the league that they are ready to win. The indication first came when the Cubs swooped in and poached Craig Counsell to be their manager of the future. With a move like that to signify the Cubs’ intentions of winning, a flurry of impact free-agent signings is expected out of the Cubs.

As the Winter Meetings commence in Nashville, Shohei Ohtani has emerged as the Cubs’ priority target.

Ohtani to the Cubs, which sounds like a dream, would be an incredible move for the Cubs for many reasons. For starters, he is the best player in the sport. Ohtani is a top-5 hitter and a top-5 pitcher in the league. He won the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year, and then he won MVPs in 2021 and 2023 — with two of the greatest seasons ever. He instantly makes whatever team is lucky enough to sign him much better.

For the Cubs, they would have their answer long-term as their designated hitter. They would have a top-5 bat in the sport who hits from the left side and has an unmatched amount of power. Then, starting in 2025 — assuming his rehab from surgery goes well — the Cubs would add an ACE to their starting rotation for 2025 and beyond. He’s the best player in the sport; he makes the team better, period.

For Ohtani, he should get anything he wants. The Cubs have the financial flexibility to take on the financial burden of acquiring a two-way player of his caliber, so any figures of Ohtani’s contract should not be out of the wheelhouse for Chicago. His record-setting deal will likely take up nearly 20% of a 300 million dollar payroll — something only a few teams could truly take while ensuring they have enough resources for the rest of the team’s needs. He will get a fan base that embraces him to an extent that no other team in MLB can because it’s different at Wrigley. He will get a ballpark that is both pitcher or hitter-friendly, depending on the day.

And, of course, he will get the freedom to stick to his entire dietary and training regime and routine that he has been adamant about keeping. What more could he want?

For the Cubs brand, they get their superstar. They get the player to market the entire team around. They get the player who makes fans want to go to more games, buy Marquee Sports Network to watch the product on the field and buy the most popular jersey in Chicago Cubs history.

It makes sense on paper. But it will all come down to what Ohtani wants. There have been three exciting elements that will seem to influence Ohtani’s eventual decision. A team has to meet his requirements on a potential contract and give him the freedom to exercise his meticulous schedule — two things the Cubs appear to check the box for.

However, Ohtani has also clarified that he wants to be on a winning team — that looks to eliminate the Angels and does not disqualify the Cubs. This team won 83 games a year ago and figures to make a big jump in the standings moving forward, especially with Ohtani.

The 27-year-old also made it known in his original free agency in 2017 that climate will play a factor. Not only is the West Coast much closer to his home in Japan, but it also consistently has better weather — something Chicago or New York can’t come close to matching in March, April, and September.

But another critical component of Ohtani’s free agency has been his request to remain private. It has been reported that Ohtani has made it known that if his meeting with any prospective team gets leaked to the media, he will hold it against them throughout this process. Whether that would eliminate inquiring teams is unknown, but Ohtani is believed to be holding it against those teams.

Thus far, through the Winter Meetings, Ohtani is still on the board — and meetings with the Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Giants have been leaked. While it is unknown whether the Cubs have met with Ohtani, we know that no meetings have been confirmed or leaked, which stays in conjunction with Ohtani’s wishes.

The lack of knowledge has led different reporters to say conflicting things about Chicago’s chances with Ohtani, but the truth is, nobody truly knows anything but Ohtani himself. The Dodgers remain Ohtani's favorite, but the Cubs, indeed remain an option for the superstar.

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