Happy Black Friday to those who partake. Instead of shopping, I use this day to try a new beer, and this year’s selection is Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. I’ve heard nothing but great things and I’m enjoying the delicious brew as I write this.
That said, this space is more of a gathering of baseball minds than a bibulous fraternity, so let’s turn to the hot stove with a specific emphasis on Chicago’s North Side baseballers. Have we published enough articles that mention Shohei Ohtani here at Cubs Insider? The correct answer would be “It’s never enough,” at least until he signs elsewhere or holds his presser at 1060 W. Addison. I have a strong hunch the two-way superstar will retire as a Chicago Cub after a long and fruitful career in royal blue pinstripes.
I have no tangible evidence and I’m not basing it on Jon Heyman’s Thanksgiving piece, but I’d put those odds as significantly better than that of Sammy Sosa returning to Chicago with the blessing of Tom Ricketts. The grassroots campaign to bring Sosa back is intensifying, and there may be no better way to silence those barbarians at the gate than by bringing in the one superstar who would make all that buzz completely dissipate. Can you picture Ohtani trying on that Cubs cap and jersey while sitting between Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins? I can, and it’s chill-inducing.
Sosa was Chicago’s last great superstar but is now a pariah because the league has shunned the PED freaks it once encouraged to boost lagging post-strike attendance and television viewership. Ohtani is naturally gifted, as far as we know, and is capable of shifting the past, present, and future landscape of Cubs baseball. The competition to sign the Japanese unicorn is reportedly down to the Dodgers and your beloved North Siders, but you can bet the farm a mystery team will emerge. It won’t be the Giants, Padres, Mets, or Yankees, but don’t discount the Angels.
Hearing there might be Ohtani news today.
— Howie Rose (@HowieRose) November 24, 2023
I’d say the Cubs are 3-to-1 favorites to win the grand prize this offseason, and I’ll bet Ohtani signs a new contract before the end of this year’s Winter Meetings, if not sooner. The fast-paced, rumor-heavy conference of baseball’s executives, agents, players, coaches, and insiders takes place in Nashville from December 4-7. The Cubs Convention starts on January 12, 2024, by the way. Circle both dates on your calendar. I truly believe every Cubs fan will have reason to celebrate Ohtani, unless you prefer Hoyer signs Josh Hader and Matt Chapman instead.
A Ghost Runner of a Chance
Let me depart with one last tidbit before I turn fantasy into reality. If you remember last year at this time, Hoyer was reportedly trying to sign two of the heralded group of shortstops. Money is always a consideration but it was not the concern that moving one to third base was. With that in mind, I believe there is at least some validity to the Bo Bichette rumors.
Trading for Bichette would not prevent Hoyer from signing Ohtani and possibly Yoshinobu Yamamoto, though I think Tyler Glasnow, Sonny Gray, or Kenta Maeda are more realistic pitching options. The odds of Ohtani, Bichette, and Yamamoto all playing at Wrigley Field are astronomical, but it’s fun to dream about nonetheless, and that’s what the hot stove is all about anyway.
You don’t go fishing for minnows when ownership encourages you to spend money, you know what I mean?
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs are indeed connected to Hader by one writer, though there is little in the way of substance.
- Though signing Hader seems unlikely, Hoyer indicated he’s not opposed to doling out multiyear reliever contracts this winter.
- Nevertheless, Hoyer did sign lefty reliever and reclamation project Edwin Escobar to a one-year deal.
- The Cubs are entering a five-year window of contention, so signing Ohtani and/or trading for Glasnow or Juan Soto would not mean Hoyer is going chips-in for 2024 only.
- The Cubs are one of four teams that check all the Yamamoto boxes.
- As a manager, Craig Counsell should be seen as an extension of the front office ($) according to Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic.
- Speaking of the front office, Jared Banner has been promoted to assistant GM. That’s one way to keep other organizations from raiding your closet.
- I never thought I’d live in an age where UFOs exist and the Cubs’ season ticket waiting list doesn’t.
Odds & Sods
An MLB debut is special when you share it with those who got you there ❤️
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) November 24, 2023
- Milwaukee: The Brewers could target three non-tendered hitters as potential roster additions: Austin Meadows, Mike Ford, and Kyle Lewis.
- Cincinnati: The Reds could use Ben Zobrist as the model for Spencer Steer and then look for an outfielder in trade or free agency.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates need another starter and could be priced out of free agency based on the contracts that Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson received (try not to laugh) from the Cardinals. Nick Pivetta could be a trade candidate and Pittsburgh might pursue the 30-year-old Red Sox righty.
- St. Louis: The Cardinals will still pursue Gray and Yamamoto despite signing Lynn and Gibson.
Some MLB executives believe Ohtani will become an everyday outfielder at some point in his career.
At least 10 teams have checked in on Yamamoto, and his agent said it’s the most interest he’s ever received for one of his clients.
The Dodgers are baseball’s top destination for free agents. I agree the news cycle is awfully slow right now.
I’ll enjoy Wrigley Winter Wonderland for the first time if I can make it to Chicago next Saturday evening. As I mentioned previously, I will be attending the Mariah Carey show the next day and I’m looking forward to both experiences. It would be kinda cool if Danny Rockett held his caroling even that night, too. What parody song should Danny write to entice Shohei to come to Chicago? How about “Ohtani Night?”
“Ohtani night, the Wrigley lights are shining…” You get it.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) November 22, 2023
Sliding Into Home
I spent Thanksgiving alone due to scheduling conflicts so do me a favor and post pictures of your holiday feasts in the comments section.
They Said It
- “[Counsell] was Doug Melvin’s special assistant for a couple of years (in Milwaukee). I frankly thought he was going to be the GM there, not the manager. I don’t think there’s many people in the game like him. I know a handful of them. Craig Breslow is one who just left here, A.J. Hinch is a friend of mine. Guys you feel like they could have gone either path, they could go be a GM or go be a manager. There’s not many people in both camps.” – Hoyer
Friday Walk-Up Song
I like this song and that’s all that matters.