Cubs checked in on both Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani pre-deadline

This week featured a puzzling trade deadline for the Chicago Cubs. The team traded a breakout rookie reliever with five years of team control, while holding onto an All-Star catcher on an expiring contract with whom they’ve had no substantive trade talks since 2017.

The usual suspects traded hands in the form of relievers Chris Martin, Mychal Givens and David Robertson – but it was a much quieter deadline than I think most folks expected from Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins. Despite that being the case, you know the two were burning the midnight oil making calls across the league – including checking on a pair of superstars on the block in Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani.

Of course, the Angels wound up holding onto Ohtani, despite being 23 games back in the AL West and 11 games out of a wild card spot. Meanwhile, the Nationals sent Soto to the Padres in exchange for a loaded package of prospects in a move that clearly shows San Diego is going all-in in their pursuit of the franchise’s first World Series championship.

Timing was all wrong for the Cubs to go after Shohei Ohtani or Juan Soto

But, as Hoyer noted in his comments post-deadline, that team is in a wildly different place than the Cubs, whose big league roster comes nowhere close to measuring up to the Friars.

“Obviously, you have to check in, but I think right now, going into 2023 effectively, it did not make sense to be involved in the Juan Soto sweepstakes.” I think you have to have a real structure, a real foundation built to make that kind of transaction. I think with the Padres, they believe this is their window and they are absolutely ready to win the World Series right now with him. And they paid a really heavy price to do that, to get one of the best hitters we’ll ever see. We’re not right now in a position as an organization to do that. Now, would we have entertained that sort of thing in 2016, 2017, or 2018? Absolutely. Do I look forward to at some point in the next few years feeling differently? Absolutely. But right now certainly the time wasn’t right.”

And while I don’t agree with the decision to hold onto Contreras, I do agree with Hoyer not emptying a farm system he just replenished for two years of Soto. I’d much rather wait until he hits free agency at the end of the 2024 campaign and dump wheelbarrows of cash at his feet, all while holding onto our young up-and-coming talent that should, assuming things go as planned, start making their mark at the big league level by then.

The same line of thinking can be applied to Ohtani, who will be a free agent at the end of next season. A player unlike anything we’ve ever seen with the exception of Babe Ruth, the Angels’ two-way star continues to do things that amaze on a daily basis and would be a bold declaration to the rest of the league that the Cubs were back.

For now, though, he stays in Anaheim and Soto teams up with Francisco Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado in San Diego – we’ll have to wait to see what the future holds with these two generational standouts.