The main topic of conversation for any Major League Baseball team this off-season, including the Chicago Cubs, is the free agency of Shohei Ohtani.
Despite Ohtani being relegated to only hitting duties next season, there is an expectation that the superstar will land the largest contract in the history of Major League Baseball this off-season. Locally, the Cubs have already been mentioned as a team that will be interested in Ohtani but any fan should be cautious in terms of hope of the team signing the superstar two-way player.
However, the rumblings that Bob Nightengale has in his latest piece for USA Today likely will have Cubs fans excited. In a primer of the general manager meetings that are set to take place this week, Nightengale writes that several general managers expect the Cubs to be a sleeper pick for Ohtani this winter.
"The Chicago Cubs are the sleeper pick, several GMs say, particularly with $43 million coming off their books with the expiration of Jason Heyward’s contract and Marcus Stroman opting out. "- USA Today
There is no question that the Cubs have an interest in signing Ohtani this off-season. Every team in Major League Baseball should have an interest in signing Ohtani this off-season. The issue is that the Cubs' actions have typically shown that they don't shop at the top of the free-agent market. While there certainly is an argument that the Cubs need to swim in the deep end of free agency and that Ohtani would be the perfect free agent for them to break their recent trend, it still is something that shouldn't be viewed as likely.
Free agency likely won't be the primary path that the Cubs take to improve their roster this off-season. Given the prospect capital that the team has built up in the past couple of seasons, the Cubs may prefer the trade market as opposed to free agent market.