Reports broke late yesterday that the Chicago Cubs are reevaluating their strategy for how they will navigate MLB free-agency this offseason, as Shohei Ohtani continues his discreet decision-making process for his next MLB team. While the Cubs are not openly withdrawing from the pursuit of the highly sought-after free agent in Ohtani, signs indicate they are gearing up for more active engagement in their offseason plans, and Ohtani will not be a part of them.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts openly confirmed his recent meeting with Ohtani at Dodger Stadium during this free agency period, designating Ohtani a top priority. This was in stark contrast to Cubs manager Craig Counsell’s MLB’s Winter Meetings media session, where he stated he had not met with Ohtani nor was aware of any such meeting by the Cubs’ front office.
Jed Hoyer, Cubs President of Baseball Operations, expressed irritation over the free agency rumors suggesting the Cubs were losing ground in the race for Ohtani. He emphasized the confidentiality surrounding these discussions, likening them to any other free agent negotiation.
Ohtani’s representation, Creative Artists Agency, is keenly managing the information flow around him. This was evident when Toronto Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins, during a video conference at the Winter Meetings, did not disclose his location amid speculations of Ohtani visiting the Blue Jays’ Florida training facility.
The Cubs are still interested in Ohtani meeting Counsell to explore potential strategies for utilizing his skills; no doubt the two-way playing MLB wunderkind will come with his own set of demands.
Despite no clear update on their status in the Ohtani sweepstakes, Hoyer acknowledged that the Cubs are very active this free agency period, intensifying discussions on various potential deals to strengthen their team. They are exploring various options, and significant moves could be announced soon.
Among the speculated interests:
- Rhys Hoskins: After the Phillies opted to play Harper at first base over Hoskins, super-slugger Hoskins is also a possible target for the Cubs, potentially on a short-term contract (similar to the one negotiated by Scott Boras for Cody Bellinger). Hoskins, a right-handed power hitter, could contribute both as a DH & at first base.
- Tyler Glasnow: A possible trade prospect for the Cubs & the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rays have love poaching young pitching prospects from the Cubs & the Cubs need to secure a stud at the top of their rotation. A positive for the Cubs is none these conversations have mentioned their rising-star in center field Christopher Morel.
- Yoshinobu Yamamoto: The 25-year old hurler from Japan caught the attention of several major teams, including those in New York. However, the Cubs seem unlikely to engage in the competitive bidding for Yamamoto, who is anticipated to secure a deal near $300 million
- Shota Imanaga: Another Japanese pitcher, Imanaga is most definitely on the Cubs’ radar. While not as high-profile as Yamamoto, the 30-year old Imanaga offers substantial experience from Nippon Professional Baseball and could be a reliable addition to the middle of the rotation.
Hoyer has emphasized the importance of pursuing multiple avenues & not fixating on any single deal:
“You gotta be really careful not to get caught waiting on any one particular thing. I learned over the years that you gotta have a lot of lines in the water. You can’t assume anything is going to get done. Sometimes the dominoes fall as you think. But if you assume they’re going to fall that way, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble waiting. Clearly, we’re working on a ton of different stuff.”
We’ll see if these signals to the media will equate to bolstering a roster that has holes, but also potential.
So what do you think?
Who will be the biggest free agency signing this MLB offseason for the Chicago Cubs?
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