The long (actually, it wasn’t that long) wait is over as we finally found out where Shohei Ohtani wants to go to hone his craft:
#Angels only a surprise because they didn't have any already-known ties to Ohtani. Otherwise, the choice makes sense. I wrote earlier this week on what Ohtani could be looking for in a team: https://t.co/3OiuwqavMN
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) December 8, 2017
I’d like to say again that I’m very happy that the Cubs were even in on the conversation, and got to give their pitch to Ohtani’s group before he made a final decision. It feels good that even though he preferred a West Coast team, the Cubs were still a tempting enough destination for Ohtani and his representation to give Theo Epstein and company a chance to change their minds. Ultimately, it seemed that Ohtani didn’t really care that much about money (the Angels have about a million dollars less to throw at him than the Mariners or Rangers did) and more about fit, although I guess you’d have to take his word for it on that front. It might also have to do with relationships, too:
Agent (not from CAA) on Ohtani signing: “Eppler made this happen. 100% all him. He has been on Ohtani since he was in HS and I will bet he absolutely crushed the presentation. This is a credit to him.” Eppler visited Japan while with NYY and after becoming LAA GM in Oct. 2015.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 8, 2017
That would be Angels general manager Billy Eppler, who came over from the Yankees and apparently built a great network and relationship with Shohei Ohtani during scouting. That holds a lot of weight since baseball players are human, too, and it’s something we’ve seen with this generation of Cubs, who are big on connections and human relations and what not.
I’m a bit disappointed that this offseason didn’t get Ohtani as the cherry on top, but I’m sure the Cubs weren’t counting on it anyway. They already have other plans in place for pitching, but this sure would have been a nice deal to close on top of those plans. In a way, it’s kind of like ordering a delicious pizza but forgetting the parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. You don’t really need the cheese, but you still miss it a bit.
Anyway, Ohtani will put in his six years, and then we will see whether he’s worth pursuing in free agency proper, assuming we’re all still in one piece by then.