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The biggest domino of the offseason has finally fallen, and the news isn’t what Cubs fan have been hoping to hear — Shohei Ohtani is signing with the Dodgers.
According to multiple reports, the deal is worth $700 million over 10 years. That dollar total shatters not just the previous largest free-agent deal in Major League Baseball history (Aaron Judge: 9 years, $360 million) but the previous largest MLB deal, period (Mike Trout: 12 years, $426.5 million). Outside of just baseball, the $700 million is the largest guarantee in sports history.
Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said the last time the Cubs recruited Ohtani (when he was still the team’s general manager), they were seemingly disadvantaged by the fact the National League still didn’t have the designated hitter spot. And for someone who wanted to both hit and pitch full time, joining a team without the DH never quite seemed like the best option for him.
Still, Hoyer believes the two sides had an excellent meeting with genuine mutual interest back then. So it was no surprise that rumors about Ohtani’s free agency this time around included the Cubs among the top suitors.
Club officials remained tight-lipped about their pursuit of Ohtani throughout the process. At the Winter Meetings, manager Craig Counsell would only say that he personally had not met with him. Both Hoyer and general manager Carter Hawkins mostly declined to comment on any recruitment of the Japanese star, other than Hoyer disputing reports that the Cubs were out of the sweepstakes.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “There’s nothing to report whatsoever. … We have not been given a status check [from Ohtani’s camp], so to speak.”
It’s possible Ohtani already knew his destination at that point and his camp just hadn’t informed the Cubs. At the same time, it’s very possible they actually were still in the running.
Regardless, Ohtani has picked his new team in the Dodgers, and for the second time, the Cubs have missed out on the “unicorn” ballplayer.
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