The Chicago Cubs lost the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. Baseball’s best free agent signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He traded Anaheim for Chavez Ravine to the tune of a 10-year deal worth $700 million.
At least the Cubs will not have $700 million on the books for a decade. Then again, the return on the investment might have been worth it.
It is not easy to be one of the losers in the pursuit of Ohtani. At the same time, the club will still be playing baseball in 2024. Ironically, Ohtani’s first road game with the Dodgers will be at Wrigley Field.
The Dodgers were the favorites to sign Ohtani, so it is not like the Cubs lost out to the Toronto Blue Jays as earlier reported. Seeing him pick Canada over the Cubs would have been a big blow. Staying in the only American city he has played in is acceptable.
Now team president Jed Hoyer must pivot and focus on enhancing the roster to where it can overtake the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central Division title.
More importantly, he still has to make moves to resurrect the offseason’s good vibes after Hoyer lured manager Craig Counsell away from the Brewers.
He can follow this proposed plan by local sports talk host Matt Spiegel of 670 the Score to still accomplish winning the offseason.
These two corner free-agent infielders can provide power to the lineup.
Matt Chapman is still on the market. The third baseman would provide much-needed pop over Nick Madrigal. He only hit 17 home runs last season, but he smacked 44 between 2021 and 2022. He also crushed 36 home runs in 2019.
Chapman is also outstanding defensively at third base with four Gold Gloves. He would fit in perfectly in the club’s desire for run prevention.
At the same time, he will be 31 next season and is projected to cost around six years at $103 million. Madrigal may not hit for power, but he will be 27 next year and is still under club control for three more seasons.
The Chicago Cubs could target first baseman Rhys Hoskins to have a bounce-back season. He missed all of the 2023 season with an injury. Fangraphs projects he will hit 29 home runs with a .461 slugging percentage.
Even if the Cubs manage to bring back Cody Bellinger, they can always have him play outfield on days Hoskins does not DH.
J.D. Martinez is an interesting option. Another option is seeing if Carlos Santana can belt home runs for another season. He smacked 23 between his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Brewers last season. Fangraphs is projecting he can crush 20 next season if he decides to keep playing.
He is also a very good defensive first baseman.