Chicago Cubs To Focus On Pitching After Losing Out On Shohei Ohtani

Acquiring pitching becomes the focus of the Chicago Cubs after they lose out on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.

Theo Epstein at Chicago Cubs’ victory celebration.
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Acquiring pitching becomes the focus of the Chicago Cubs after they lose out on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.

Shohei Ohtani’s decision to sign with the Los Angeles Angels did not send the Chicago Cubs reeling. However, it has centered the Cubs’ focus on acquiring more pitching. Pitching is the Chicago Cubs’ biggest need as the maneuvering has picked up a notch in the MLB offseason.

For the Chicago Cubs, signing Shohei Ohtani would have been a cost-efficient move. Ohtani could have added a much-needed arm for the Cubs’ rotation. His presence would force the Cubs to be creative in using him, as Ohtani has desires on being a regular in the everyday lineup as well.

Ohtani choosing to join the Angels (courtesy of MLB.com) allows the Japanese star to occasionally play in the designated hitter’s role. It is an option the Cubs only have when they play in an American League ballpark. The idea of adding Ohtani was a wonderful one, but now the Chicago Cubs have to continue fixing their weaknesses.

The Chicago Cubs made their first attempt at bolstering their pitching staff on Thursday. Former Colorado Rockies’ hurler Tyler Chatwood inked a three-year, $38 million deal (courtesy of NBC Sports Chicago) with the Cubs to become the No. 5 starter in the rotation. That leaves one spot left for the Cubs to fill, along with some bullpen help.

Tyler Chatwood fits the Cubs’ model of a young pitcher with potential upside. His acquisition is reminiscent of when the Cubs traded for Jake Arrieta. If the Cubs can get an above average performance out of Chatwood throughout the terms of the contract, it will be a huge bargain.

Not every player will come at a bargain rate. Thus far, the Chicago Cubs have not been linked to any high-priced MLB free agents. Shohei Ohtani was a high profile player, but virtually an unknown to the MLB. The Chicago Cubs however, were connected to the Giancarlo Stanton trade talks.

According to the New York Daily News, the New York Yankees have traded for Stanton. The Yankees sent Starlin Castro and two minor league players to the Miami Marlins in exchange for the slugger. The Chicago Cubs were on Stanton’s list of teams he would have played for, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Shohei Ohtani celebrates with teammates.
The Chicago Cubs miss out on a bargain MLB free agent in Shohei Ohtani. Adding more pitching becomes the Cubs’ focus. Masterpress / Getty Images

The Cubs were not completely in on the Giancarlo Stanton trade discussions. Dealing players from a weakened farm system, while assuming the majority of Stanton’s contract was not something deemed feasible by the Cubs’ front office. Not with the need for at least two more pitchers and a versatile hitter.

Pitching will continue to be the first priority for the Chicago Cubs. Alex Cobb maybe next on the Cubs’ agenda, along with attempting to re-sign closer Wade Davis. Shohei Ohtani signing with the Los Angeles Angels, coupled with the New York Yankees trading for Giancarlo Stanton means that business is picking up during the MLB offseason.

The Chicago Cubs may have the strategy of retooling their pitching now, while waiting to strike big next year. Expect another pitcher to be added to the Cubs’ staff within the next couple of days.