Signing superstar free agent Shohei Ohtani appears to be the primary plan for the Chicago Cubs this off-season.
That does not mean that the Cubs will sign Ohtani this off-season as the Los Angeles Dodgers are still the overwhelming favorite to sign the expected 2023 American League MVP but more reporting would seem to suggest that the Cubs' focus at the moment is on Ohtani.
In a follow-up to the Cubs hiring Craig Counsell as their manager, MLB insider Jesse Rogers provided some insight for ESPN regarding what the team has planned next.
"Ohtani, now the biggest free agent in the history of the sport, is deciding where he wants to play next, and the Cubs are again interested in courting him, according to sources familiar with the situation."- Jess Rogers via ESPN
Rogers' report on Thursday was a clear confirmation of what has been assumed for much of the past week: The Cubs' priority at the moment is signing Ohtani and other moves, such as bringing Cody Bellinger back on a long-term deal, are not the focus for the team's front office right now.
Much like their pursuit of Counsell to be their manager, if the Cubs believe they have a real shot at signing Ohtani then that is an effort that must be exhausted at every level.
To further emphasize the Cubs' pursuit of Ohtani, sources told Rogers that the Cubs' chances of signing Ohtani to a long-term deal may be greater than their chances of signing Bellinger.
"Multiple sources think the Cubs are more likely to sign Ohtani than bring Bellinger back on his own massive deal."- ESPN
If the debate for the Cubs is whether to sign Bellinger to a long-term deal or Ohtani, it is a very easy answer. Ohtani would represent an immediate return on investment that would be unprecedented for any free agent signing the Cubs have made in the past. For that reason alone, Cubs' chairman Tom Ricketts would likely be willing to spend whatever it takes to get Ohtani.
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