The top two items on Jed Hoyer’s shopping list this offseason should be a power bat — preferably lefty — and a top-of-the-rotation starter, so why not try to get them both in one deal? The Angels were reportedly fielding offers on Shohei Ohtani ahead of the trade deadline and the news that they’re exploring a sale makes a trade this winter even more of a possibility.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network believes that could be the case and he told 670 The Score’s Parkins & Spiegel that the Cubs may be at the top of the list when it comes to working something out.
“My understanding is the Cubs were impressive to Shohei’s camp,” Morosi said. “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.”
The two sides obviously can’t have any sort of meaningful discussions at this point, but the fact that Morosi is talking about it like this makes you think there could at least be some back-channel chatter. All hypothetical, mind you, just the sort of stuff where one executive shares with a prominent insider that they might be willing to trade Player X.
If Ohtani is indeed made available in a trade, the cost to acquire him is going to be huge in terms of both player capital and financial commitment. He’s only under contract for one more season, so a massive long-term extension for the 28-year-old is a must right out of the gate. That’s in addition to parting with a pretty significant chunk of the farm.
“Now for the Cubs, it would cost multiple, probably three or four elite prospects,” Morosi 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.”
Based on MLB Pipeline’s rankings, the Cubs would have to part with Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis, and probably one of Kevin Alcántara, Cade Horton, or Jordan Wicks in addition to Steele. Morosi questioned whether the Cubs would do that deal for just one year of Ohtani, but I would counter that there’s no way they make the trade at all unless they can negotiate an extension up front.
It makes zero sense to trade for Ohtani under nearly any circumstance if it’s just going to be for next season, but having him for another 6-8 years beyond that is worth soooo much. We’re talking about a guy who can put up 9 WAR per season between his bat and arm, plus he’d be playing in a pretty weak NL Central that might boost his performance.
I wasn’t sold on the idea of trading for Juan Soto when the topic was hot, mainly because I didn’t feel the Cubs would really be able to build around him properly. Ohtani is a different story for me, though, and not just because I actually believe ownership is finally ready to spend again. We’re talking about a uniquely talented player, perhaps the best ever in terms of his excellence on both sides of the ball, who would check two big boxes at once.
This is absolutely something I’m happy to will into existence. My current wish list is as follows: Trade for and extend Ohtani; extend Nico Hoerner; promote Mash Mervis. With further development and some other personnel tweaks, the Cubs could be a lot better in a hurry. Even if this blockbuster doesn’t happen, it sure feels like all the breadcrumbs are leading to something big for the Cubs this winter.