As we still await the first domino to fall in Shohei Ohtani, we have learned that Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto will travel to the U.S. to meet with teams, but not until next week. That timeline falls in line with the expectancy of Ohtani getting ready to sign, but it is still unclear if a signing is, in fact, imminent, as there have been conflicting reports on a deal getting done at the winter meetings. Still, the Chicago Cubs are reportedly interested in pursuing Yamamoto as well, as he will become the team's number-one target if they miss on Ohtani. No official meeting between the two sides has been reported at the time of writing.
It's a testament to free agency creeping along slower than we want it to. Of course, once Ohtani does sign, it will create that domino effect, and many will be expected to sign after that. So far, the Cubs have been linked to multiple big-name stars, but free agency is sometimes a process of one player only signing once he is the most coveted free agent remaining. That is the case today, especially with an ever-inflating market and teams willing to overpay to ensure they get their guy. Therefore, don't expect a whirlwind of signings at the winter meetings this winter.
Instead, expect more of a waiting game until Ohtani and Yamamoto decide. Unfortunately, this is how these things work so other players can get the best payday possible for themselves as well. We all want to draw our hypothetical Cubs lineups for 2024 and pencil in the new starting rotation, but the certainty of how soon we'll be able to do so remains a mystery.
The Cubs do appear poised for a big offseason. They aren't at the top of everybody's list of favored teams because they have not been shopping in the deepest pools of free agency in the last few years. That can all change with one quick signing. Landing someone of Ohtani or Yamamoto's caliber shows the team's commitment to making a strong push for contention. If it seems like they are getting linked to every free agent in the market, it's because there is validity there, and they are going for it.