Dec. 02, 2017
Ohtani, Cobb Perfect Fit's For the Cubs
With the league focused on the Giancarlo Stanton saga, the Chicago Cubs could be quietly working behind the scenes to net two of the premier free agents. A report came out last night that the Cubs are one of teams on prized Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani. The Cubs appear to be an ideal landing spot for Ohtani. He would land in a major market, but not one with the pressure and expectations of New York. The Cubs have a respected established manager. Not to mention one of the key selling points for the Cubs will be their upcoming TV deal which would make it easier for fans back in Japan to follow his career. The Cubs have one of the best ran front offices. Additionally, this is a team built for success, Ohtani would be able to adjust to the American game with the luxury of having superstars Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, and Javy Baez to limit the pressure around him. While many big market teams are gearing up to court Ohtani. The Cubs have a manager who is committed to creativity with his line-up, and loves versatile players. While Ohtani can pitch and play the field, Ben Zobrist should be a perfect example of how Joe Maddon will find a place for Ohtani to play consistently. Maddon has been flexible with his line-up dating back to his days in Tampa Bay.
Speaking of Tampa Bay, the Cubs appear to be the going favorite to land Alex Cobb. Cobb would be a perfect fit for the Cubs rotation. He's a ground ball pitcher who has chemistry with the Cubs coaching staff. This rapport will give the Cubs a leg up on landing the right-hander. Cobb would likely slot into the Cubs 4th spot in the rotation. Cobb would provide the Cubs an elite rotation. His numbers will be superior to the numbers we saw from John Lackey last season, but may be just a little shy of what we saw from Jake Arrieta. However, generally speaking Cobb is an outstanding 2-3 guy in the rotation, who at times can flash the ability to be elite.
For arguments sake, let's say the Cubs land both Ohtani and Cobb, what does this do? It rounds out their rotation with Quintana-Lester-Hendricks-Cobb-Ohtani. The move allows the Cubs to keep Mike Montgomery in the long-relief/spot starter role he has excelled in. Adding Ohtani gives the Cubs a third young controllable arm in the rotation. Ohtani also gives the Cubs line-up no holes every 5 days. Not to mention it adds to the embarrassment of riches in the Cubs outfield. These are all the obvious solutions. These two moves set the Cubs up to really add juice to dynasty talks. Now suddenly the only hole for this Cubs team is the bench and bullpen. We have already seen the Cubs add Dario Alvarez, but we can obviously expect many more moves from the Cubs in this department. With Ohtani and Cobb in place the Cubs have a plethora of position players at their disposal to deal for help in various areas. No longer are the Cubs at the mercy of other teams which player they move, they get to chose which name is moved. The Cubs have a gaping hole in the back end of the pen which needs filled. While Wade Davis could return, he's going to be a hot commodity.
Japanese star Shohei Ohtani plans to make the move to the MLB this offseason, and the Cubs have positioned themselves to be one of the favorites to land him, according to David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago.
MLB sources have confirmed to me that the Cubs have spent significant time and money in their pursuit of Ohtani. The club has sent multiple scouts to Japan for weeks at a time and they have watched him pitch and play the outfield and they believe he can indeed do both on the north side of Chicago.
A rival NL executive who has scouted Ohtani believes the Cubs will be on the short list of teams that have a realistic chance of signing him:
“Theo has been fascinated by this kid for a long time," the executive said. "He and Jed have been strategizing on how to land him in Chicago. They have the support system needed to make this work. They landed Daisuke Matsuzaka when he was in Boston and they have a good relationship with Ohtani’s agent (Nez Balelo) at CAA. They are definitely one of the teams on his short list. But will he end up in the National League? That’s the big challenge.”
The Cubs are looking like a juggernaut going forward, but this is going to be a crucial off-season to see just how many championships this Cubs team can win together. The Cubs should be busy this off-season. Adding Ohtani could make anyone in the outfield available even right fielder Jason Heyward. Moving Heyward would only add to the speculation the Cubs could be courting Bryce Harper next off-season. Adding Ohtani certainly won't hurt that cause.
There are a number of questions the Cubs will be facing this off-season, but adding Cobb and Ohtani minimize those questions. The Cubs are going to need to figure out are they going to continue to invest in Kyle Schwarber's bat? What about Ian Happ will he be the in house replacement to Ben Zobrist or trade bait? Will the Cubs keep the defensivly stout duo of Russel-Baez up the middle? Will they swap Baez and Russell's position's? Albert Almora looked sharp last season is he the starter in center? Who will lead-off? Is another big move in the works following these moves? Time will only tell as the hot stove heats up in the MLB.