The Chicago Cubs are getting ready for the most important free agent pursuit in MLB history and as a fan it’s becoming extremely difficult not getting completely sucked into the early offseason rumor mill. Since October, we have seen countless reports about the Cubs being serious contenders to sign Shohei Ohtani and those have not slowed down as we get closer to the Winter Meetings.
The latest buzz is from ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, who wrote about the Cubs, who are going to be actively trying to sign Ohtani this offseason. So much so, that according to Rogers’ sources, it is more likely that the Cubs sign Ohtani than re-signing Cody Bellinger.
But while a pairing of Ohtani and Bellinger would be a dream scenario for fans, it’s unlikely. Multiple sources think the Cubs are more likely to sign Ohtani than bring Bellinger back on his own massive deal.
“I think Bellinger is as good as gone,” one source familiar with the situation said at the beginning of the offseason.
You probably know the story by now, but in case you don’t here’s the brief summary. Back in 2017, when Ohtani was coming over from Japan, the Cubs were one of seven finalists to sign him. At the time, the National League did not have the DH, so the Cubs couldn’t offer Ohtani that opportunity to easily have the ability to start on the mound while also being in the lineup every day. The Cubs knew that was a big factor and ultimately weren’t all that surprised when he ended up going with an American League team in the Los Angeles Angels. However, Ohtani was said to have been impressed with the Cubs after his meeting with the club.
After six years, the Cubs are trying to take full advantage of their second chance at signing Ohtani. The team has big chunks of payroll coming off their books, they didn’t go over the luxury tax in 2023, they just hired one of, if not, the best manager in baseball, and they have a consensus top-5 farm system in the game. Ohtani wants to win and while he wanted to stick on the West Coast when he first moved to MLB, geography may not be as big of a deciding factor in where he signs this time around.
Yeah, these are exciting times for Cubs fans. Again, there are never guarantees in free agency, but how can you not be giddy when the entire baseball world expects your team to be in on the greatest player in baseball history? I mean, the chase is exhilarating.
As for the Bellinger part of this latest update, it goes in line with other recent reports. Jon Morosi said the Cubs have other priorities than re-signing Bellinger, while Bob Nightengale also believes that Bellinger will be going elsewhere. If you’ve been keeping up with the offseason reports, then that tracks. While Bellinger was fantastic with the Cubs in 2023 and would still be a good fit with them in 2024, Shohei Ohtani is the #1 focus for the Cubs right now and he should be.
For more on Ohtani, check out the latest episode of the Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast!