Shohei Ohtani has signed a record-shattering deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, putting an end to the pursuit of the most highly-coveted free agent in sports history.
The Cubs, who had reportedly been involved in the Ohtani sweepstakes, now must shift their focus elsewhere, with plenty of needs and an open checkbook as free agency continues.
In all likelihood, the team will target starting pitching help after the departure of Marcus Stroman, but they'll also need to address concerns in their corner infield spots and in center field, among other needs.
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Here are some of the players the Cubs could potentially seek out as the Ohtani sweepstakes ends.
Contrary to the rest of the blue-chip free agents, the Cubs and Bellinger have a pre-existing relationship. His agent, Scott Boras, has repeatedly said that Bellinger would be open to returning to the Cubs, but that he would also explore all other options too.
"Our platform is Cody’s let us know that he’s listening to everyone involved, and there are no exclusions," Boras told the media at the MLB Winter Meetings.
Bellinger rejuvenated his career with the Cubs last season, hitting .307 with 26 home runs and 97 runs driven in. He was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year, and was instrumental in the team increasing their win total to 83.
The Yankees were expected to be heavy favorites on Bellinger, but now that they traded for All-Star outfielder Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo, Bellinger likely isn't on their radar any more.
Bellinger also offers flexibility, as he is able to play center field and first base as a plus-defender in addition to his left-handed power at the plate.
Should the Cubs be inclined to call up youngster Pete Crow-Armstrong permanently, the Cubs could easily stick Bellinger at first. Not to mention, Christopher Morel offers a solid plug in the outfield if needed.
The Cubs churned through third basemen frequently last season, with everyone from Nick Madrigal to Patrick Wisdom to Miles Mastrobuoni seeing time at the hot corner.
Now, there's really only one good option at third base left on the market, as Matt Chapman remains unsigned.
There are some concerns with how he finished the 2023 season after a strong start at the plate, but he's proven to be durable, averaging nearly 150 games per season, and he is also a plus-defender, giving the Cubs even more quality defense on an infield that already includes Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson.
The Cubs have been circling a Tyler Glasnow trade throughout the offseason, but their efforts could step up now that Ohtani has signed.
The Cubs are undoubtedly looking to solidify their rotation, thanks to the departure of Stroman and the struggle of Hayden Wesneski to nail down a spot in that mix.
Glasnow is a tremendous strikeout threat, with 162 strikeouts in 120 innings last season, but he's also slated to make $25 million this season, is set to become a free agent at the end of 2024, and has had some durability concerns in his career.
Hoskins isn't at the same level as the preceding three players, but he would be a play to help close the gap at first base with flexibility at the designated hitter spot.
Remember, Matt Mervis will likely compete for some playing time at first base, too.
After missing the entirety of the 2023 season with a knee injury, it's uncertain what type of contract Hoskins is looking for. Jon Morosi did report, however, that the Cubs and Hoskins have been in touch about a one-year or multi-year deal.
Hoskins spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. He hit 30 home runs and drove in 79 RBIs during the 2022 season, appearing in 156 games. He slashed .246/.332/.462, roughly in line with his career averages in all three categories.