Chicago Cubs: Dissecting the complexities of Shohei Ohtani
The two-way talent and potential duel-threat Shohei Ohtani is coming to America in 2018. We look at the possibilities of Ohtani with the Chicago Cubs.
Japanese phenom, Shohei Ohtani, has commonly been referred to as Babe Ruth. Now, you might be wondering about the idea of him joining the Chicago Cubs.
Obviously, this would not be the first time an international superstar seeks an opportunity in the United States. Future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki is the greatest player to come over from Japan. Hideki Matsui was a World Series MVP for the 2009 Yankees and put together very solid Major League numbers.
Some of the other names to don Major League uniforms include Hideo Nomo, Yu Darvish, Daisuke Matsui and, more recently, Masahiro Tanaka. Ohtani has also been compared to the likes of Justin Verlander and Curtis Granderson.
Positive attributes of Ohtani is he’s just 23 years old. Every team has the right to bid for his future services, and his professional team in Japan, the Nippon Ham Fighters, will receive $20 million as a posting fee.
As it pertains to the collective bargaining agreement, teams will allocate their international bonus pool money for the rights to Ohtani.
Any contract for Ohtani will be a minor league contract, and the most the Chicago Cubs can offer is $300,000. The Rangers and Yankees can offer over $3 million-plus.
As far as what Ohtani could mean to the Cubs, think about it this way: an affordable prospect under team control.
Imagine the possibilities of Ohtani as a hitter with Joe Maddon’s use of creative lineups. Ohtani has played 62 career games as an outfielder, with 57 coming in right field.
In five seasons as a hitter, Ohtani slugged 48 home runs, knocked in 166 RBI, and slashed .286/.358/.500.
All of this over 403 games and 1,170 plate appearances. As a pitcher, he was 42-15 with 2.52 ERA over 82 career starts spanning 543 innings.
In 2017, ankle and thigh injuries limited Ohtani. He made five starts on the mound, and appeared in 65 games as a hitter. In October, he underwent ankle surgery with a three-month recovery timetable.
The questions I have with Ohtani pertain to the very attributes that make him lethal.
As a pitcher, how will his stuff translate to the Majors? Regarding his two-way prowess, will teams seriously consider Ohtani as a two-way player considering injury-risks? The most games Ohtani has played in a given season is 104 games. How might his mental pitching preparation, and physical stamina, suffer if he’s playing the field every other day?
What potentially mitigates these concerns is the lesser financial risk.
A calculated fit
As instructed by his representation, potential suitors are requested to demonstrate how their teams are a fit for Ohtani in writing. From medical and training regimens to descriptions about Spring Training sites.
While there has not been an indication as to how serious the Cubs’ pursuit may be, from a financial perspective, a minor league contract makes it worth the gamble.
From the Cubs perspective, while they might not outspend teams, money might not be the most important factor. Ohtani is already foregoing millions of dollars by coming to the United States now. As a 25-year-old, he would presumably field nine-figure offers.
The chief ambition for Ohtani remains to test his ability against the game’s best talent.
Next: Where does Tommy La Stella fit into the 2018 plans?
After posting initial bids, teams have a 21-day period to negotiate a contract for the Japanese phenom. With regards to the Chicago Cubs, what do you think about Shohei Ohtani and his potential as a two-way player?