Cubs Rumor Roundup (12/7): Epstein Mum on Ohtani, Mo’ Money No Problem, Japanese Reporter in Chicago

Loose lips sink ships and it’s way too damn cold to be going for a swim in Lake Michigan, which is why the Cubs have said nothing regarding the specifics of their meeting with Shohei Ohtani. Veils of secrecy and codes of silence are standard practice in big free agent negotiations, but the silence has been particularly deafening in this case given all the hype and the novelty of the player. It’s a real-life Sidd Finch, except we know even less about him.

“Out of respect for the player and the process, I’ll let any information come from the agency, from CAA,” Epstein told reporters following the announcement of Tyler Chatwood’s signing. “I think that’s the appropriate thing to do. That’s our choice.”

That was all the Cubs president said on the record about their pursuit of Ohtani, which is to be expected. In addition to that whole code thing, it’d be considered somewhat gauche to allow your new pitcher’s intro to be hijacked by talk of a guy you haven’t signed. Yet.

I’m still overly optimistic about the Cubs’ chances, even in the face of a flurry of trades that have pumped a total of $3 million into the coffers of the Angels and Mariners. And with the spurned Yankees still holding $3.5 million, we could see even more. But I’ve maintained since well before the Cubs were announced as finalists that bonus money wouldn’t matter, and Thursday evening brought a sliver of confirmation that that is indeed the case.

It’s impossible to vet the veracity of this information, though there’s also no reason to doubt what Phil Rogers heard. For the umpteenth time, this is something you should have seen all along. It’s pretty much the only thing that’s been clear throughout this drawn-out/sped-up process.

Speaking of, we still have no idea what the next steps are. My guess is that the list of seven will be pared down and that site visits to the remaining teams will follow. Unless Ohtani is signing with the Dodgers or Angels, he’s never even been to any of the cities in which he may spend the next several years playing and living. Seems like it’d maybe be wise to change that.

Flimsy as it may be, my theory could have gained a little credence from a casual bit of trivial information in Gordon Wittenmyer’s column about Chatwood and Ohtani.

the Cubs’ chances have improved enough that a Japanese reporter following the 23-year-old’s move to the major leagues flew into Chicago from L.A. after the seven meetings on the chance that Ohtani could show.

So can we take anything from this? You can speculate as you like, but I’m not putting much stock into “chance” and “could.” Realistically, this is nothing more than said reporter’s publication dispatching someone to each of the cities involved in the talks just to be safe. Cheaper than flying a whole contingent, smarter than picking a single city and guessing wrong.

What I think we can safely deduce from all of this is that the Cubs are still very much alive and that there will be a great deal of crazy rumors over the next few days.

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