Shohei Ohtani is the most talented player in MLB history and he’s going to be paid as such when he hits free agency at the conclusion of the season. Not that money is going to be the mitigating factor in his decision, just as it wasn’t when he first came over from Japan. As you may recall, he opted to jump a year early and was bound by stricter bonus limitations, thus forfeiting tens of millions of dollars.
After years of toiling fruitlessly for an organization that has been unable to build a winner with the two best players in the game, Ohtani wants something better. That’s why it behooves the Cubs to do everything they can right now to prove they can be the team to get him to the promised land. They tried during his initial courtship and all accounts had them as Ohtani’s favorite other than West Coast squads, and they’ll be after him again.
Gird your loins, folks, this is shocking stuff.
“The Chicago Cubs will be among the players for Shohei Ohtani when he turns free agent in November,” Bruce Levine said on 670 The Score’s Inside the Clubhouse Saturday morning. “I don’t think it’s any shocking news. I don’t think it’s any breaking news. I just think it’s appropriate news that a big market team like the Chicago Cubs are going to be interested in the Shohei Ohtani market going forward, according to industry sources.
“The Cubs want to continue to be the Chicago Cubs, they want to be world champions in the future, and Ohtani’s tires will be kicked by the organization.”
Given all this tire-kicking, maybe Crane Kenney can line Michelin and Pirreli up as legacy partners. Levine noted that this isn’t a surprise in any way, if for no other reason than failing to at least say you tried to get a conversation with Ohtani would be a fireable offense. Only one team can actually sign him, though, so just talking on the phone isn’t going to get it done.
A lot of folks immediately discount the idea that the Cubs won’t be in on Ohtani due to the exorbitant price tag, but that doesn’t really make sense. If there’s any player Tom Ricketts would be happy to bust the bank for, it’s this one. With the inevitability of MLB’s blackout restrictions going away, the Cubs would be able to sell enough Marquee subscriptions to make up the huge salary and then some.
Then you factor in the number of people who’ll show up to the ballpark to see Ohtani pitch a one-hit shutout and hit two homers. How many jerseys will this dude sell? How many celebratory beers will be consumed after yet another eye-popping feat? Whatever he’s paid will be a bargain.
The real issue is whether the Cubs can convince Ohtani that they can win repeatedly over the next 10 years. They might also want to figure out a way to make Chicago seem closer to Japan, though that is probably less of an issue.
I don’t really think Jed Hoyer can make this happen, but I would be willing to do any number of illegal and unsavory things to increase the odds of making it so.