Boy, it sure doesn't take much to get Cubs fans believing a Shohei Ohtani signing is imminent. Totally unverified accounts tweeting what they're hearing from 'sources' has had Cubs Twitter in a frenzy multiple times this week - and that's sure to continue until the AL MVP's next home is made official.
But, according to Jeff Passan, we might not hear much of anything until then - at least not if Ohtani has his way.
"If there is one thing to know about Shohei Ohtani's free agency, it's that you are unlikely to know much about it until he signs somewhere. If visits between Ohtani and a team are reported publicly, it will be held against the team, so the circles will be tiny and tight."- Jeff Passan, ESPN
A report out of Seattle has seemingly eliminated the long-shot Mariners already, but they were never really considered a serious threat to sign Ohtani. The main contenders seem to boil down to the Dodgers, Mets, Yankees, Cubs and Giants - with a handful of other clubs, including the World Series champion Rangers on the periphery.
Cubs' odds to sign Shohei Ohtani strong, but money and fit will both still be a huge factor in a free agent pursuit this offseason
Chicago has the second-best odds in Vegas of landing the two-time MVP and three-time All-Star, trailing only the Dodgers - but the Giants have money to spend and desperately need some star power, something that's been an issue since Buster Posey rode off into the sunset a couple years ago.
The Dodgers stood pat last winter, sneaking in under the luxury tax threshold to re-set penalties - a move that most assumed was a precursor to a serious Ohtani pursuit this winter. Neither New York team can be ruled out, especially the free-wheeling Mets and owner Steve Cohen. Then again, his last attempt at buying a championship roster blew up in his face this year, so maybe he proceeds with a bit more caution this time around.
The fit in Chicago is near-perfect. Even as a bat-only player in 2024, he would fill a major need as true left-handed power bat - and then could join the rotation in 2025, as the team's young arms hopefully begin to settle in at the big league level. But if you're someone who looks for smoke while searching for a fire, you might be out of luck because with this free agent pursuit, mum seems to be the word.