All the kerfuffle about an alleged trip to Toronto for Shohei Ohtani provided some entertainment Friday, but turned out not to be true.
The report Saturday that Ohtani was going to sign with the Dodgers, though, is absolutely true, and we know this because the player broke the news himself on Instagram:
And there you have it. From one of baseball’s most reliable reporters, Jeff Passan, we have some details on Ohtani’s contract:
Shohei Ohtani's deal with the Dodgers is for 10 years and $700 million.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2023
Yikes, that’s a lot of money. More than I would have wanted the Cubs to commit to Ohtani. But:
Shohei Ohtani's contract has significant deferrals that include most of his salary -- an idea, a source said, that was Ohtani's. In deferring the money, it reduces the cost of the competitive-balance-tax hit and will allow the Dodgers to build a better team around him.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2023
So, you’re saying, why couldn’t the Cubs do this and... stop. Just stop. It seemed unlikely Ohtani would come to Chicago, and L.A. was the likely destination because the Dodgers have been a consistent winner and also, Ohtani has probably found himself comfortable living in the Los Angeles area and this way, he doesn’t have to change that.
What’s more important now is where the Cubs go from here, with money (presumably) burning a proverbial hole in Tom Ricketts’ pocket.
Job 1, I’d say, is re-signing Cody Bellinger. Last month I wrote about Bellinger and noted that MLB Trade Rumors projected a 12-year, $264 million deal for him. Given what some other players have done in the current market, that no longer seems unreasonable — and it’s an AAV of $22 million, which the Cubs could certainly afford.
There’s the hitter they need, though some of you will say — that’s the hitter they had. True, so bringing him back would at least give the Cubs the offense they had in 2023. Reminds me of this song:
♬ “You’re the one I want, you’re the one I need, you’re the one I had, come on back to me.” ♬
Then there’s pitching. Last month I wrote about Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto. MLBTR says nine years, $225 million for Yamamoto, which again doesn’t seem unreasonable for a 25-year-old star who has done what Yamamoto has done.
That would be a total of $489 million for these two players. That’s a lot of money, but it would certainly make a statement that the Cubs are ready to compete with the big boys. If they don’t want to pay Yamamoto, another Japanese pitcher, Shota Imanaga, might be able to give the Cubs close to Yamamoto production for less money (MLBTR projects five years, $85 million).
Congratulations to Ohtani for his record-breaking contract, though I don’t necessarily see how this makes the Dodgers guaranteed to win a World Series. They already crush NL West competition every year — so this money is supposed to get them over the hump? As always, we await developments.
That’s not the end of this story, though — the end of it will be when Jed Hoyer signs one or more of the bigger-name free agents. Get it done, Jed.