The Cubs and Theo Epstein & Co. made their best pitch to get Japanese star Shohei Ohtani to sign with them, but he has made a different choice:
CAA in a statement said Ohtani will join #Angels and Trout— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 8, 2017
1/Statement from Ohtani agent Nez Balelo if CAA:— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 8, 2017
“This morning, after a thorough, detailed process, Shohei Ohtani has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. Shohei is humbled and flattered by all the time and effort that so many teams put into their presentations
2/and sincerely thanks them for their professionalism. In the end, he felt a strong connection with the Angels and believes they can best help him reach his goals in Major League Baseball.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 8, 2017
“I want to thank the clubs and everyone else for respecting our intent to make this
very important process as private as possible. We were resolved to having a fair, methodical process. Teams clearly put in a lot of work, and we are grateful for that.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 8, 2017
If Ohtani is as good as advertised, this could mean the Angels will become a formidable team going forward. They’ll certainly become more relevant in the Los Angeles market, as this will bring large numbers of Japanese media to Anaheim to cover Ohtani’s every move.
The Cubs and the other five “finalists” for Ohtani’s services will thus have to move on. What’s next for the Cubs?
The obvious next move to me would be to sign another starting pitcher, since they had clearly thought Ohtani would join their rotation. Alex Cobb is the guy everyone’s assumed could be heading for the Cubs and so he could easily be the next target to sign in free agency.
Or, what about this: Denied the chance to have one Japanese star play for them, could the Cubs go after Yu Darvish? Darvish is only one year older than Cobb, and he has had quite a bit of major-league success. Of course, Darvish would be a lot more expensive than Cobb based on his big-league track record.
There’s also the potential pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton, being discussed in more detail here.
The Cubs will certainly see Ohtani in spring training; they will play the Angels at Tempe Friday, March 2, and in Mesa Friday, March 9. Those are likely to be hot tickets (not that the Cubs aren’t a hot spring training ticket these days anyway). They won’t play the Angels again in the regular season until 2019.
Ohtani, based on his NPB record, would have been an asset to any MLB team he chose. I wish him the best in Anaheim.