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5 reasons the Cubs make sense for Ohtani

5 reasons the Cubs make sense for Ohtani

2:02 AM UTC

The free agency of Shohei Ohtani is unique in baseball history. Never before has a player of his tremendous skill set — both as a hitter and a pitcher — and proven track record been on the open market like Ohtani is now.

There are obviously a number of teams that will be in the mix to land baseball’s greatest superstar, who could very well ink the largest contract in the history of professional sports. The Dodgers, Mets and Angels are rumored to be among them, as are the Blue Jays, Giants, Red Sox and Yankees.

But one club, in particular, could produce a seismic competitive shift by signing the two-way sensation on the heels of a surprising 2023 campaign.

Here are five reasons why the Cubs — who were among the finalists to sign Ohtani when he first arrived in the Majors six years ago — would be a good fit for the megastar, and vice versa.

1. Chicago just obtained wise Counsell
In dismissing David Ross and hiring Craig Counsell as manager, the Cubs shocked the baseball world. They also demonstrated how serious they are about returning to the glorious heights of 2016, when they won the franchise’s first World Series championship in more than a century.

Counsell’s managerial prowess, particularly when it comes to helming a pitching staff from top to bottom as he showed during his nine seasons with the Brewers, bodes well for the Cubs’ near future, and for Ohtani’s assumed return to the mound in 2025. Chicago looks to build off an 83-79 season in 2023, one in which the Cubs were in the postseason hunt as late as the final day of the regular season. You don’t sign Counsell to the richest managerial contract in MLB history if you’re not serious about winning. And what better way to signal you’re serious than by subsequently signing Ohtani?

2. The Cubs are in position to improve quickly and significantly
Ohtani has made it clear his No. 1 priority is winning, and with the Cubs bringing in Counsell and boasting the game’s No. 4 farm system per MLB Pipeline’s 2023 midseason rankings, Chicago is in prime position to make a big move in the National League.

Whether through more free-agent signings to address other holes on the roster or trades from their stacked Minor League ranks, the Cubs could make an Ohtani blockbuster the biggest, but not by any means the only, impact move this offseason. Ohtani would be an especially notable upgrade for a Chicago team that received a .731 OPS from the DH slot in 2023, which ranked 20th in MLB. (The Angels, thanks to Ohtani, ranked first in that category.)

3. The Wrigley rooftops beckon
There’s just something about the most “must-see” player in the game playing his home games in one of the most iconic ballparks in the Majors. Shohei Ohtani and Wrigley Field certainly fit that criteria.

It would be poetic for Ohtani to regularly step into the same batter’s box that the legend he has so often been compared with, Babe Ruth, did when Ruth hit one of the most famous home runs in baseball history during the 1932 World Series. And Ohtani donning the classic Cubs home pinstripes would be quite a sight along the same lines.

He’d have some inviting targets for his massive home runs as well: the famous Wrigleyville rooftops across Sheffield Avenue beyond the right-field wall. The only player known to have reached the rooftops with a homer is Glenallen Hill, who hit a monstrous shot onto one of them beyond Waveland Avenue behind the left field bleachers in 2000.

But no one has hit one onto the rooftops out on Sheffield Ave. With some of the baseballs Ohtani has hit so far in his illustrious career, he’d be a serious candidate to be the first.

4. A friendly face at the ‘Friendly Confines’
Ohtani’s friend and countryman, Seiya Suzuki, has now been with the Cubs for two seasons after nine with the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball. The two actually played against each other when Ohtani was playing for NPB’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham-Fighters.

When the Cubs visited Anaheim for a series with the Angels last June, the two playfully hinted at Ohtani’s impending free agency. Suzuki mimicked the motion of reeling in a fish, a gesture directed toward Ohtani as the two were warming up prior to one of the games.

Will the Cubs reel in Ohtani? If they do, he’ll have a friendly face when he arrives in town.

5. The stage is set
Chicago would offer a suitable setting for Ohtani to showcase his otherworldly wares. (Another relatively minor, though certainly not insignificant, perk of playing in Chicago? He could enjoy some delightful walks with his adorable dog in Lakeshore Park.)

It is the city, after all, where the most famous athlete of his generation — Michael Jordan — spent the majority of his legendary basketball career. Ohtani could follow suit, the best of the best playing for a storied franchise with a window of opportunity to construct a team that could finally get this once-in-a-lifetime talent playing into late October.

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