(670 The Score) As speculation persists about Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani’s future with the organization as owner Arte Moreno is exploring a sale of the team, MLB Network insider Jon Morosi believes the Cubs will be a serious contender to land Ohtani should he be dealt this offseason.
“A huge part of the Ohtani conversation here might be that the Angels are sort of talking – and this is hard to do because of the way the rules work in baseball – but remember where the Cubs finished in the derby to get Ohtani at the beginning?” Morosi said on Parkins & Spiegel Show on Friday afternoon. “My understanding was they were a pretty compelling place.
They put together a pretty good sales pitch. Theo (Epstein) was still with the Cubs obviously at that point in time. My understanding is the Cubs were impressive to Shohei’s camp. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Shohei were to be traded to the Cubs, and you look around and this is to me a compelling time to join the Cubs. They’re going to get better. They’ve already been pretty good through the last couple months. There are better days ahead for the Cubs. And I think if Ohtani were to come to Chicago and look around, I feel better about the Cubs’ next five years than I do the Angels’ next five years. And you look at the division, and Milwaukee is sort of in a perpetual cycle of having to make trades like the one they did with (Josh) Hader. The Cardinals, I think you look at their roster, they might turn over here in the next couple years as well. Obviously, there are some prominent retirements happening for them. I think there’s an opening there for the Cubs. I really do. They’re going to be a very compelling team to keep (an eye on).”
Ohtani, 28, is under team control through 2023, after which he’s in line to become a free agent. So any team that acquires him this winter would only have one guaranteed year of him unless it can work out a long-term extension as part of the trade.
Ohtani is a two-time All-Star who’s hitting .260 with 27 homers, 75 RBIs and an .861 OPS in 123 games. He has been even better on the mound, with a 2.67 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 128 innings across 22 starts. His 12.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate is the best in MLB.
Morosi also warned that the price for Ohtani would be costly, which will be a factor for all teams considering they could wait a year and potentially make a run at him in free agency.
“Now for the Cubs, it would cost multiple, probably three or four elite prospects,” he said. “You name your top three or four prospects, and they’re all going in this trade. Justin Steele, a great emerging pitcher, he might have to go in the trade if you’re going to get Ohtani – for one year. And that’s why it’s such a hard trade to make. Because Steele is already 27. This is his first full season, and he’s just now coming into his own. Would you trade five years of Steele (plus prospects) for one of Ohtani? And that’s where I don’t know if I could do that if I’m the Cubs.”