With a Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing reportedly imminent, the baseball world lost its collective mind when reports emerged that the highly coveted 25-year-old Japanese pitcher was set to attend the Los Angeles Rams' Thursday night game with none other than newly-signed Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani.
While that turned out not to be the case, the excitement around another big name coming off the board seems palpable at this point. While it seems like only a handful of teams actually have a shot at signing Yamamoto, there are far reaching implications for the other 26 or so teams in the league, including the Chicago Cubs - who are yet to spend a single dollar on a big league free agent this winter.
The expectation is that once Yamamoto comes off the board, the markets for Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery will take shape quickly and we could see a trickle-down effect from there, with more of that mid-tier level start to follow. There's still no ETA on when Cody Bellinger will sign - and his agent, Scott Boras, wields a big stick, representing multiple prominent players looking for new deals - so that could stretch on for some time.
Cubs need to pounce once Yoshinobu Yamamoto signs
Hopefully, once the big-name free agent starters come off the board, the trade market is a bit clearer, as that's long seemed like a likely avenue the Cubs will explore to upgrade the rotation. After missing out on Tyler Glasnow, Chicago seems to have pivoted to Shane Bieber - who, again, will see his market dictated by where Snell and Montgomery end up signing.
Taking a step back, though, it's very disheartening to see the Cubs (at least based on all public reports) on the sidelines for such a talented player, especially one who's still so young. Yes, he's going to get a record-setting contract, but at some point, Chicago will have to push its chips in (or so, one would think) and this seems like it could have been a great opportunity to do so. But, hey, at this point, we'll settle for the market thawing and at least getting some action, right?