The one thing that Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts has put an emphasis on during his time as Chairman of the Cubs’ organization is on international spending. That is why Ricketts is currently developing a first class facility in the Dominican Republic. Once Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took control of the Cubs’ baseball department, there was an increased focus put on international spending. That would explain the interest that the Cubs expressed in international free agents Yu Darvish, Jorge Soler, Yoenis Cespedes, and Gerardo Concepcion.
July 18, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein during batting practice before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE
But, at about the same time that the new regime entered the Cubs’ front office there was a new collective bargaining contract put into place. The new collective bargaining agreement put restrictions on the amount of money that Major League Baseball free agents can spend on international free agents. For the 2012-2013 season, teams are allotted a $2.9 million dollar signing pool for the international signing period. Major League Baseball has put in various fines to enforce the system, the fines include paying a percentage tax on the overage; or in some cases, limiting the amount of money a team can spend on an international free agent the following season.
Shohei Otani, who forewent his career in Japan to pursue an opportunity in Major League Baseball, will be classified as an international free agent. Meaning there will be no posting system like what we saw with Darvish when he was awarded to the Texas Rangers last season. The fact that Otani will be classified as an international free agent, he will be subject to the new system that Major League Baseball is implementing in regards to spending on international free agents. For that reason, as Brett Taylor indicates at Bleacher Nation, it would seem unlikely that the Cubs sign Otani this winter.
Otani is everything the Cubs need in a starting pitcher. That need is magnified when you consider the Cubs are lacking talented starting pitchers throughout their entire organization. Otani is lengthy pitcher that is capable of pitching 100 miles per hour, and will generate interest from teams such as the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Texas Rangers. Any team that signs Otani will likely push past their $2.9 million signing bonus assigned to them for the international signing period. The Cubs simply are not going to do that.
It’s the same reason why the Chicago Cubs will not be in pursuit of the top Major League Baseball free agents this winter. The Cubs’ money is best spent when they spread it around and sign players that have a collective value greater than one specific player. Otani could very well be an impact signing for whatever team he signs with, but for the Cubs? The impact comes from signing several talented international free agents while also preserving money for the following seasons.