CHICAGO -- Could Shohei Ohtani pitch, hit and play the outfield for the Cubs? Manager Joe Maddon is definitely intrigued by the idea of having a two-way player.The Cubs are reportedly one of seven teams still in the running to sign the Japanese player, joining the Mariners, Giants, Padres, Angels, Rangers
CHICAGO -- Could Shohei Ohtani pitch, hit and play the outfield for the Cubs? Manager Joe Maddon is definitely intrigued by the idea of having a two-way player.
The Cubs are reportedly one of seven teams still in the running to sign the Japanese player, joining the Mariners, Giants, Padres, Angels, Rangers and Dodgers. The Cubs have not confirmed the report.
A right-handed pitcher and left-handed slugger, Ohtani, 23, has until Dec. 22 to make a decision.
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All 30 Major League teams were believed to have submitted a questionnaire requested by Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo. Ohtani was interested in teams' evaluation of him as both a pitcher and a hitter, as well as their player development program, medical training and player-performance philosophy, team facilities both for Spring Training and the regular season, and information on the home city and why its organization is the right fit. They wanted the information in both English and Japanese.
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What's interesting about the final seven teams is that money didn't appear to be the deciding factor. The Yankees, Twins, Pirates and Rangers could pay Ohtani $2 million or more, and Texas was the only team among those four to make the final seven. The Mariners have $1,557,500 available in their bonus pool, while the Giants, Padres, Dodgers and Cubs can only pay Ohtani a $300,000 bonus.
Whichever team wins Ohtani's approval also will need to pay a $20 million posting fee to the Nippon-Ham Fighters.
All 30 Major League teams were cleared to pursue Ohtani on Friday when he was officially posted once Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball came to an agreement with MLB that allows clubs a three-week period to sign him.
While Ohtani was believed to prefer a West Coast team, playing and pitching for the Cubs apparently intrigued him.
Maddon tried to experiment with a two-way player in 1992. At that time, Maddon was on the Angels' Minor League coaching staff, and he wanted to come up with some way to take advantage of Deshawn Warren's talents. A second-round Draft pick out of Choctaw County High School in Butler, Ala., Warren was a left-handed pitcher, but he was also the fastest player on the team.
Maddon wanted Warren to pitch and also be the designated hitter and play some outfield. But Angels general manager Dan O'Brien nixed that.
"I've always been intrigued by the concept," Maddon said on Friday during a radio interview in Chicago. "I see nothing wrong with it. How do you utilize it? I think a lot of that would be in progress. You'd have an idea of what you want to do, then you'd figure out more as you do it. But yeah, I definitely think it's something that's the wave of the future, in a sense."
The Cubs are in need of another starter with Jacob Arrieta and John Lackey likely to depart in free agency, but they do have a crowded outfield with Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ and Benjamin Zobrist.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.