Is a Shohei Ohtani trade a possibility for the Chicago Cubs this offseason?
Shohei Ohtani trade rumors are swirling again, this time their blowing straight in the direction of Chicago’s North Side. Jon Morosi of the MLB Network dropped a bomb on Chicago sports radio last week. Appearing on Parsons & Spiegel on Friday, Morosi predicted that the Cubs could be the ideal landing spot for Shohei Ohtani in a trade with the Anaheim Angels.
“If I’m a Cubs fan,” Morosi said, “I would allow myself to be a bit more excited about the Ohtani trade possibility than the deGrom free agent possibility.”
The prospect of a legit Shohei Ohtani trade seems as much of a pipedream as it is a no-brainer (if it were possible), but Morosi has some good points suggesting:
- The Angels are looking to sell and may not be willing to keep two $400 million contracts on the books when searching for potential suitors for the franchise.
- The Cubs were said to have made a good impression on the Ohtani camp when he initially interviewed MLB teams interested in signing him.
- The Cubs are trending upwards with loads of good prospects and cap room heading into the 2023 season and beyond.
So, let’s just say it’s a possibility, for the sake of argument and pure dreaming potential. The Cubs have the opportunity to trade for Ohtani, the best two-way player since George Herman Ruth?
Should the Cubs do it?
So, the phone rings. If you’re Jed Hoyer, you obviously answer the call from the Angels, but how far are you willing to go to get Ohtani? Are you willing to give up Nico Hoerner AND Justin Steele AND Pete Crow-Armstrong AND (we could do this all day . . . but if you were Jed, would you?)
Some things to consider: Ohtani is 28 with just one season left on his contract. This is not the same situation that led to the Juan Soto deal. Soto is 4 and a half years younger than Ohtani and isn’t slated to reach free agency until after the 2024 season. So, even with the prospect of signing Ohtani to a long-term deal, the Angels are not giving up nearly as much potential generational-talent baseball as the Nationals did. The return for Ohtani should be considerably less than the Soto haul from the Padres.
Hoerner, Steele, PCA, and more? Expect it to take lesser, or at-least less certain, prospects (or more expensive baggage, like Anthony Rendon’s remaining 4 years at third base) to make this deal happen.
Obviously, Cubs fans want the front office to give up as little as necessary to get Ohtani, but even if they overspend a little bit, Ohtani is a player you have to acquire if given the shot. He is irreplaceable. It would take 2-3 free-agent signings to garner the same value they would get in Ohtani. But more importantly, trading for the most exciting player in baseball would be a huge sign the Cubs were looking to compete not just in the NL Central in 2023, but for a shot at a repeat of World Series glory.
And if they trade for Ohtani AND sign him to an extension? That Cubs dynasty we thought we were getting five years ago might just be a reality this time around.
Now, I have no idea about the could part of this scenario. In my experience, owners looking to sell their teams generally hold on to as many assets as possible to make their franchises look sparkly, shiny, and wonderful. But it’s hard to argue with the fact that the Angels spending upward of $100 million on just three players alone would be a tough sell. And Ohtani doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so he could be going anywhere. There’s a chance, but not a great one.
But if the Cubs have a shot at pulling off a Shohei Ohtani trade? They absolutely have to take it.
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