The Chicago Cubs were the talk of General Manager's meetings this week as Major League Baseball was left stunned by the news that the Cubs were hiring Craig Counsell as their manager while consequently firing David Ross.
The dust over Counsell's hiring has settled but many baseball executives are wondering what the next move is for the Cubs. There has been an uptick in rumors linking the Cubs to superstar free agent Shohei Ohtani and that was a sentiment shared with Mark Feinsand of MLB dot com.
"One NL executive who picked the Dodgers believes their greatest competition will not come from another West Coast team, but rather a team that made headlines this week with its managerial hire.- MLB dot com
“He doesn’t seem to be driven by money, so I don't think it's just dollars,” the NL exec said. “I think it's all about fit for him. I think the Cubs will push hard for him.”"
Don't misconstrue the news, the Los Angeles Dodgers are still the overwhelming favorites to sign Ohtani and if there is a bidding war involved, the Cubs won't be topping the Dodgers. Having said that, as Cubs' president of baseball operations proved last year with shortstop Dansby Swanson and this year with the hiring of Counsell, if he gets the meeting, that could be all that he needs.
Ohtani's timeline does match with the Cubs in that the team's biggest need this off-season is an impact hitter but, in the long term, there is a question about the top of their starting rotation. Ohtani is expected to be relegated to hitting duties only next season while he recovers from Tommy John surgery but is expected to be pitching again by 2025.
Until Ohtani signs with his next team, the Cubs will always be mentioned as the team in the background. Time will tell if Ohtani is the Cubs' next shocking move of the off-season.