Cubs Rumors: Potential Shohei Ohtani pursuit already doused in cold water
By Jake Misener
Just as soon as Cubs fans allowed themselves to daydream about Shohei Ohtani calling Wrigley Field home, Jon Heyman took the airwaves on 670 AM WSCR on Monday to dump a large bucket of cold water on the idea.
""I think he's about winning. I don't think he's about money. I would be surprised if the Cubs are the high bidder anyway. I think we all kind of thought (Dansby) Swanson is a great player, but he was going to be less money that the other three shortstops. That was one of the reasons we all felt that the Cubs were a better match ... They're not going to compete with the Padres, the Mets, in terms of the big contracts. I think he's going to get $500 million-plus. So I don't see Cubs ownership going (there). I'm not ripping them, I don't see a lot of ownership going to $500 million-plus even for a player that's an all-time great, who's a marketing gem and all that. I'd be surprised.""- Jon Heyman, via WSCR
Heyman hits it right on the head. There's no chance this ownership group or front office drops a half-billion on one player, regardless of how talented he is. You saw Chicago focus on the 'bottom' of this winter's free agent shortstop group, landing Swanson on a seven-year, $177 million deal that paled in comparison to the 11 years, $300 million given to Turner by the Phillies and 11 years, $280 million the Padres doled out to Xander Bogaerts.
Cubs need Shohei Ohtani, but Shohei Ohtani doesn't need the Cubs
Ohtani, unquestionably the best player in the sport and a one-of-a-kind talent, would give the Cubs the ace they sorely need atop the rotation and one of the most potent left-handed bats in the league today. Last year, he finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting and second in AL MVP balloting, putting up a 145 OPS+ in 157 games while working to a 2.33 ERA in 166 innings on the mound.
If you'll recall, the Cubs were among the finalists for Ohtani before he initially signed with the Angels. But I tend to think after experiencing what the West Coast has to offer and knowing the Padres and Dodgers are both likely to be in on the superstar, it's really hard to see a path to Tom Ricketts shocking the baseball world and dropping his checkbook on the table in negotiations.
As Brett correctly lays out in his piece on Ohtani over at Bleacher Nation, the Cubs will no doubt have talks with Ohtani and his representation this winter. But just how advanced and deep those talks wind up being is the big question and, again, I can't see a situation playing out where Chicago is even among the last clubs standing in the Ohtani sweepstakes.
We've never - in the history of baseball - seen a free agent pursuit like what we'll see this offseason when Ohtani hits free agency for the first time. The Cubs seem likely to be little more than a fringe participant and almost certainly won't be the team that comes away with him in the end.