Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs are heading into a big offseason for the future of the franchise. After making it to the NLCS the last three seasons, the Cubs are losing some key pieces this offseason. Jake Arrieta is gone in free agency, while both John Lackey and Wade Davis appear to be on the way out as well.
Now that Joe Maddon has even confirmed that Arrieta is likely gone, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs will have to switch their attention elsewhere. They could look in many different areas, but one piece that they could target is Japanese star Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani has not been linked to the Cubs all that much so far this offseason. Maddon has said that adding a starting pitcher with the ability to play other positions would be intriguing. Chicago has not been crossed off Ohtani’s list, even though he appears to be wanting to play on the west coast.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Cubs could still be in on Ohtani, which isn’t too surprising.
Chicago can offer Ohtani quite a few things that other teams can’t. They can offer him a starting pitching job, as well as the ability to play in the outfield. In addition to that, they can offer him a serious chance to compete for a championship right away.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2017
Epstein and company have done an excellent job of recruiting top-notch talent in the past. To count them out on Ohtani would be a massive mistake.
Last season in Japan, Ohtani flashed his pitching and batting skills. He finished the year with a 3-2 record and 3.20 ERA as a pitcher. Ohtani also recorded a 0.322 batting average to go along with eight home runs and 32 RBI’s. Those numbers make him an extremely intriguing fit for the Cubs.
Chicago still has a decent three-man rotation heading into the 2018 season at this point in time. Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, and Kyle Hendricks are all capable No. 1 arms. They have been linked to Alex Cobb as a potential free agency target and adding Ohtani to round out the rotation would be a huge step in the right direction.
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) December 3, 2017
That being said, the Cubs are going up against some serious competition to sign Ohtani. His current list of suitors includes the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants, who can all offer him huge roles on the west coast.
While the Cubs certainly are not out on Ohtani, they are not being viewed as a serious contender to sign him. That is exactly where the Cubs do not mind being.
Expect to see rumors heat up surrounding Ohtani in the coming week or two. He is certainly one of the hottest commodities on the market and will have his pick of MLB teams.
Chicago may not currently be reported as a top landing spot, but it would not be shocking to see him end up with the Cubs when everything is said and done.