I want to note the difference between rumors and speculation before I get into my morning preamble. With the Winter Meetings beginning in two days, there is an increasing amount of noise regarding Shohei Ohtani. One Twitter report indicated the two-way superstar has narrowed his choices to the Dodgers and Blue Jays, saying the Cubs made an offer but Ohtani did not accept it.
#Ohtani update….as expected cubs made an offer . it is believed by many that its down to dodgers and blue jays .
— Gabriel Morency (@sportsrage) November 30, 2023
I can’t tell you if Gabriel Morency is credible or not, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today provided some speculation of his own. In the most recent episode of the Jack Vita Show, Nightengale assessed the free agent market for Ohtani. He believes that contrary to recent rumors, location will play a big part in Ohtani’s choice. The West Coast teams offer distinct advantages that appeal to the Japanese star according to Nightengale.
“I think the Giants will probably offer him the most money, but he likes to hit, so I’m not sure if he wants to hit in San Francisco,” Nightengale said. “That’s why Kris Bryant turned them down, Aaron Judge turned them down. Giancarlo Stanton vetoed a trade, so it’s tough to get a big slugger who wants to go to San Francisco. The two dark horse candidates of course are the Cubs and the Texas Rangers.
“The Cubs have been perceived as a dark horse candidate all season long by Angels people. They think they’re going to come hard. We’ll see. There’s the pitching factor. You want to know when you have a game, and you don’t want to have a rain delay or a rainout. You don’t have those rainouts in Southern California. If he goes to Texas, it’s a controlled environment.”
Nightengale also said he believes the Cubs will make Ohtani a handsome offer, which refutes Morency’s report that said an offer has been made.
“I think [the Cubs] will throw the big bucks at him,” Nightengale added. “Everybody knows what he means at the gates. He’s probably worth $20-25 million a year off the field as far as just the brand, licensing, and merchandise, so I think that’s where the Dodgers pretty much want to buy the brand and become Japan’s team, where everybody’s wearing a Dodgers cap over there. I’m sure the Cubs are looking at him the same way. I just think the weather factor in Chicago is going to be a hindrance. If they played in a dome or a retractable roof it would be different, like in Texas. But I think it’s a long shot to think that he’d leave Southern California.”
It’s important to remember that Nightengale is saying what he believes, and not what he’s heard. Jeff Passan of ESPN offered a different take ($).
“Given that, it would be foolish to count out any high revenue team, though by now the field for Ohtani’s services has winnowed, sources said. The Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox , and New York Mets, who were among the initial group of suitors, have turned their attention to other players, sources said. Among those confirmed by sources to be still in the bidding: the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays , and Angels. The San Francisco Giants have long had a fondness for Ohtani, though where they stand in these sweepstakes is unknown.”
Everything is speculative, though Passan mentioned “sources” three times. His take makes the most sense, but nobody knows what’s really happening due to the stealth-like negotiations. Perhaps next week’s meetings will provide more clarity. I wouldn’t mind turning to other topics, either.
Cubs News & Notes
- There are four teams believed to still be in the Ohtani sweepstakes, and bidding could reach $600 million.
- Ken Rosenthal says that signing Ohtani means purchasing a brand ($). He also believes Chicago is an optimal choice for the talented two-way superstar.
- Jon Heyman believes Ohtani, Juan Soto, and Cody Bellinger will have new homes before the Winter Meetings end. He also said Chicago is still in on Ohtani.
- Would you give up Kevin Alcántara, Ben Brown, Michael Arias, and Javier Assad for one year of Soto? I probably wouldn’t do that trade, but it’s close.
- Nico Hoerner believes the Cubs are on the cusp of becoming a great team for many years.
- Justin Steele has a similar mindset ($) according to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic.
- Bruce Levine confirmed the Cubs’ interest in Tyler Glasnow. My source up here in Milwaukee believes Glasnow will be traded this weekend.
- During an appearance on the Waddle & Silvy Show, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers said he believes there is substance to the Glasnow rumors but doesn’t think anything imminent is on the horizon. He also confirmed Chicago’s interest in Shane Bieber.
- Perhaps Christopher Morel can play above-average defense at third base after all.
- James Triantos is listed as a potential centerpiece among prospects thought to be available next week.
- Assistant GM Ehsan Bokhari is considered a rising star and could be the next executive to leave the Cubs for a better gig elsewhere.
- Andre Dawson reiterated his desire to have the Hall of Fame change the cap on his enshrinement plaque.
Odds & Sods
Ron Santo, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, and Ernie Banks were known as the “Million Dollar Infield.” The Cubs paid Daniel Descalso $5 million when they signed him back in 2019, including a cool million to walk away in 2021.
Million Dollar Infield
Ron Santo, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, and Ernie Banks. pic.twitter.com/yvCVhhlfPm
— CubWin (@CubWin) January 1, 2023
- Milwaukee: Prospect Jackson Chourio has agreed to a historic eight-year, $80 million extension with the Brewers.
- Cincinnati: Add the Reds to the list of teams pursuing White Sox starter Dylan Cease, who could be traded before the start of the Winter Meetings.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates hired Sarah Gelles to be assistant general manager to Ben Cherington.
- St. Louis: The Cardinals would like to add Cease to their stockpile of offseason acquisitions that already includes Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, and Sonny Gray.
Trading Soto makes good business sense for the Padres.
Apropos of Nothing
My top five walk-up songs since I started writing The Rundown. I’d also love to know your favorites.
- The Animals medley by David Johansen
- Skateaway by Dire Straits
- The Live Aid performance by Queen
- The rooftop performance by The Beatles
- What a Day That Was by Talking Heads
Honorable Mention: The Live Aid set by U2 is spectacular, too, though Bono’s mullet is tragic.
The Cubs profiled Kohl Franklin in their latest episode of On Deck.
They Said It
- “Ohtani at Wrigley would be a sensation. The party might never end.” – Rosenthal
- “I feel like we have kind of that optimal trio: Talent in the Major Leagues, talent in the Minor Leagues, and money to spend. Obviously, what you do with that comes down to some really challenging decisions for the front office. But from a player’s perspective, it’s everything you can ask for, as far as an opportunity to not only be good this year but be good for a long time. And not just good, but raising the standard to really being great and one of the great teams year in, year out.” – Hoerner
- “It definitely feels like we have the base that you’re looking for. Of course, it would be really cool to get the big names and have them help contribute to the goals I want to achieve.” – Steele
- “Glasnow and Bieber are not in the division or in the city, so I do think there’s some real smoke there. I just don’t think it’s imminent. I think the Cubs and Rays have a similar front office. There’s a good vibe between the front offices. They were close to a deal for Willson Contreras [in 2022] so that almost happened. I like the idea of Glasnow to the Cubs for a decent package …. [But] you don’t have to give the house back. You don’t have to give three top prospects or anything crazy for one year of a guy at $25 million. So I think they match up well. The Cubs farm system is well-liked throughout the league. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if that gets done. I just don’t think it’s imminent, because there’s a lot of teams involved.” – Rogers
Friday Walk-Up Song
The upcoming week could be the biggest in the history of the Cubs’ franchise.