Multiple reports have said Shohei Ohtani was likely to announce his new team shortly after the Winter Meetings ended, with some saying it would come by Sunday. Now Jon Morosi is saying a decision is “imminent, possibly as early as today,” which tracks since this is the sixth anniversary of Ohtani announcing his deal with the Angels. Even though signs have pointed to the Dodgers since well before Ohtani even became a free agent, some are still holding onto the hope that the Cubs are actually still in the hunt.
Depending on how you look at it, Dave Roberts‘ candid discussion of his team’s meeting with the superstar was either a grievous error or an indication that a deal was all but done. The Cubs reportedly balked at the cost and are pivoting in other directions, though the hardiest keepers of the faith see radio silence from the front office as reason to believe. No news is good news, I guess.
Assuming the Cubs don’t end up with Ohtani, which is the safer bet all the way around, where do they turn? They’re said to be out of the running for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, whose asking price may be creeping toward $300 million. Cody Bellinger is reportedly seeking the same kind of payday for the time being, though that’s more a matter of price gouging while everyone waits on Ohtani. The question is how much lower his ask will get and how long it’ll take to fall because the Cubs can’t really afford to wait until late January.
We’ve discussed several more realistic names here as possibilities and won’t rehash the details, but let’s conduct a quick thought exercise. Bruce Levine believes the Cubs will spend around $70 million this winter and that they’ll be dealing heavily with Scott Boras, which makes sense given the connections to Rhys Hoskins and Matt Chapman. They’ve also been in contact with Jordan Montgomery, who would be a fallback for Yoshinobu, then there’s all the smoke surrounding Tyler Glasnow.
For the record, neither Montgomery (Ballengee Group) nor Glasnow (Wasserman) are on Team Boras.
That’s kind of an underwhelming haul on paper and it still might be too pricey. We know Glasnow will earn $25 million next season, with both Montgomery and Chapman projected to get at least $20 million AAV. Throw in something in the $16-18 million range for Hoskins and you’re at $80+ million before doing anything to address the bullpen. Yikes.
Ah, but half of that total could be falling off the books for 2025, along with another $22 million or so between Kyle Hendricks, Drew Smyly, and Yan Gomes. Knowing that this was never supposed to be an all-in offseason as the front office looks to build up over at least two years while bringing prospects along, do we believe they could be willing to spend a little bigger with the understanding that a lot of that money will fall off in a year?
With Ohtani making his choice very soon — fingers crossed — I think we’re about to find out.