3 free agents the Chicago Cubs need to target and why

The Cubs need to take some big swings as they look to take the next step forward in 2024.
World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan
World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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3. Shohei Ohtani

File this one under the "no duh" category. Every team should be in on Shohei Ohtani this offseason and the Chicago Cubs, too, should do their due diligence. Ohtani is bound to win the American League MVP again this year because, despite only playing 135 games, he has a 179 wRC+ with 44 home runs and a 3.14 ERA across 132 innings. No player in the game, or arguably ever, is as singularly talented as him and bringing him aboard would not only significantly improve the roster, but bring a glut of international attention toward the team.

Of course, the big concern with Ohtani is health. He underwent elbow surgery following a UCL injury earlier this year with the Angels which leaves some questions as to how well he'll be able to pitch afterward. Ohtani, who has already come back from one Tommy John surgery in his MLB career, has proven he's capable of unfathomable feats time and time again though. Even if his pitching career were in question, the bat is one of the best in baseball with a Statcast page glowing bright red as he sits at or near the top in expected batting average, weighted on-base average, and slugging.

The logistics of adding Ohtani to the Cubs are messy, but worth it for this type of player. For one, Christopher Morel would have to find a permanent position to play in order to keep Ohtani firmly in the designated hitter role. The bigger issue for Jed Hoyer and ownership to stomach, of course, is the price tag. Ohtani's contract will no doubt be in the eight to ten-year range and start with a five. That's a ton to invest in one player, but if he gets back into form on the mound, it's more like adding two stars in one. A lot of teams are going to be desperately bidding to land him though, which will only raise the price.

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Landing Ohtani still seems like a long shot, but the Cubs have time and time again been connected to the two-way superstar and have reaffirmed their interest in opening up the pocketbooks this offseason. It could be a franchise-altering move and, no matter how scary the downside may seem or the cost, it needs to be considered to turn this team into a major threat.