With baseball's annual Winter Meetings right around the corner, there's a growing sense that Shohei Ohtani's free agent journey could be nearing an end. As the field narrows, the Chicago Cubs appear to be one of four - maybe five - teams still in the mix for the two-way superstar.
According to Jeff Passan at ESPN (subscription required), the Cubs, Angels, Dodgers and Blue Jays are all still in the hunt - with added speculation on the Giants, who may or may not still be in on the reigning American League MVP. You can check out his full piece for more - but one other piece is noteworth as it pertains to Ohtani's price tag, which could approach $600 million.
Cubs Rumors: Shohei Ohtani could pick a new home during the Winter Meetings
The fact the Cubs are still hanging around, despite rumors of a price tag north of a half-billion, tells you that Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer view Ohtani in a completely different lens than a typical free agent - and with good reason. The value he will bring to his next team is immense and reaches far beyond what he's capable of doing on the field and the Cubs are smart enough to understand that.
The fit could not be more perfect for Chicago. In dire need of power to replace NL Comeback Player of the Year Cody Bellinger, who seems likely to depart in free agency this winter, Ohtani could immediately provide a massive boost to the middle of the Cubs' order. He's coming off another monster campaign, in which he led the league with 44 home runs, a .412 OBP, .654 slugging percentage and 184 OPS+.
For what it's worth, Bellinger tied with Christopher Morel for the team lead with 26 homers in 2023 - and a Cubs player hasn't hit 40 home runs since Derrek Lee back in 2005. The power would certainly play and, assuming he returns to the mound in 2025, he'd slot into the Chicago rotation just as top pitching prospects like Cade Horton and Ben Brown hopefully get settled in.
The fit is there. The infrastructure to make him the face of the franchise is in place. A farm system loaded with talent is ready to keep the Cubs competitive for years to come. Now, we wait.