I think the general response that's going to come from around any pitcher of any kind of consequence this offseason is that the Chicago Cubs are a possible landing spot for the said player. Why? Because the Chicago Cubs need starting pitching like I need oxygen. Consequently, it's no surprise that the 18-year old Japanese starting pitcher, Shohei Otani, is on the Cubs' radar and might be in a position to end up on the north side when it's all said and done.
Of course, Otani is going to want money (who would have thought?). Further, based on the new collective bargaining agreement, each team only has so much money they are allowed to spend on international free agents. The Cubs are nearing that limit. Signing Otani would almost assuredly put them over that limit. While I'm no expert on the minute details of the collective bargaining agreement, it will cause the Cubs to get taxed for the overdraw --limiting what they can do with signing bonuses and the like for other international free agents. Is this really something/someone that Cubs want to get involved with?
It's a loaded question to be sure. The Cubs are in dire need of starting pitching --specifically for the long term. In that way, Otani would fit the bill directly. However, the Cubs are still in the process of rebuilding and keeping overall payroll down --look no further than signing Jorge Soler to a nine-year contract for around $30 million. Also, Theo Epstein doesn't have the best history when going player shopping overseas. I'm of course referring to his signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka while with the Boston Red Sox. I wouldn't consider Matsuzaka a disaster or anything, but he certainly didn't become the rotation anchor the Red Sox presumably were hoping he would be. Epstein's history doesn't have him not spending money, but I think in the Cubs' current situation, overspending is a huge concern. In light of that, I would be surprised if Otani ultimately ends up in a Cubs uniform --unless the Cubs get a really good deal.
There are other places the Cubs can look to fill their rotation holes -- Edwin Jackson, Francisco Liriano, Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum, etc. With other attractive options on the market, I'm not sure how plausible it is for the Cubs to stick their neck out to try and nab Otani. Of course, they'll have to stick their necks out for someone eventually.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.
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