Apologies to those of you who’d rather be pessimistic, but I’m back to try and blow a little sunshine up your backsides. All indications are that the Cubs will very much be players in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, and some believe they’re actually among the favorites. One such person is Bruce Levine, who shared a little information Saturday morning on 670 The Score’s Inside the Clubhouse.
”The huge news on the North Side as well…Shohei Ohtani,” Levine said. “And the Chicago Cubs have pretty much made it clear that it’s them and the Dodgers being involved. The Cubs haven’t made it known, but social media and all sources that I have and other people have insist that it could be Dodgers/Cubs all the way when it comes to getting a deal done for Ohtani, which will be a record-setting deal.”
Okay, not much new here. Where things get a little more interesting is the idea that Ohtani could actually be worth twice as much than the contract he’ll end up getting.
”I talked to a source this week with the Los Angeles Angels and he told me that Ohtani is worth $100 million in (annual) revenue for a team that has him,” Levine continued. “He was that for the Los Angeles Angels this past year. Hundred million dollars in revenue.
”So if this guy is gonna get a contract that’s $50 million a year for the next 10 years, it’s gonna cost the team a lot. I mean, it’s a big part of the payroll. But the amount of revenue — merchandising, marketing, ticket sales, international marketing — all of those things going into this make it a win-win for the player and whatever team signs [him].”
The other thing here is that we’re talking about a guy playing for the Dodgers’ red-headed step-sibling in Orange County. No one really cares about the Angels outside of Ohtani and Mike Trout, so what happens when he’s part of a flagship organization build to shake every loose dime from its fanbase’s couches?
That doesn’t matter to Ohtani, a humble and reserved character who couldn’t care less about all the trappings. But when arguing that the Cubs won’t spend what it takes to land him, you have to consider how much they stand to profit from his presence on the roster. It’s a baseball decision for Jed Hoyer, but it’s a financial one for ownership.
Even if you take issue with Tom Ricketts saying he’s learned to do what it takes to seize opportunities to get better, this is a situation in which the improvement makes too much sense. Or rather, it’ll make a whole lot of dollars. We’ve discussed how the Cubs’ physical location and penchant for secrecy could work in their favor, but how about Chicago’s more laid-back vibe?
Ohtani is surely more than comfortable in LA and is reclusive enough that staying in that environment may not matter in the least. At the same time, he might be intrigued by the slower pace of the Midwest. Chicago has everything you could hope to find in a big city and the traffic can be a real pain in the ass, but it’s got nothing on LA’s urban sprawl and interstate snarls.
At the same time, a guy who takes pains to avoid the spotlight might prefer playing in a ballpark that doesn’t have fans for the first and last 2-3 innings.
I tend to believe Ohtani is actually pretty close to a decision and isn’t going to drag this thing out very long. He probably just wants to get the process over with so he can move forward with his new team and focus on what’s next.