CHICAGO -- As much as manager Joe Maddon was intrigued by having Shohei Ohtani in the rotation and possibly the outfield, the Cubs were eliminated on Friday when the Japanese player's agent announced Ohtani had picked the Angels.The Cubs were one of seven finalists, making a presentation to the two-way
CHICAGO -- As much as manager Joe Maddon was intrigued by having Shohei Ohtani in the rotation and possibly the outfield, the Cubs were eliminated on Friday when the Japanese player's agent announced Ohtani had picked the Angels.
The Cubs were one of seven finalists, making a presentation to the two-way player and his representatives on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The other teams involved along with the Angels and Cubs were the Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Padres and Rangers.
"While there has been much speculation about what would drive Shohei's decision, what mattered to him most wasn't market size, time zone or league but that he felt a true bond with the Angels," agent Nez Balelo said in a statement released Friday. "He sees this as the best environment to develop and reach the next level and attain his career goals."
A right-handed pitcher and left-handed-hitting slugger, Ohtani, 23, was believed to have preferred a team on the West Coast, which made the Cubs a surprise finalist.
The Angels were limited to paying Ohtani a $2.315 milllion bonus, as well as the $20 million posting fee to the Nippon-Ham Fighters. The Cubs were restricted even more in international bonus money because they overspent their allotment last year and could have paid Ohtani a $300,000 signing bonus.
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On Thursday, the Cubs introduced new starter Tyler Chatwood, who signed a three-year, $38 million contract and will likely be slotted at the back end of the rotation after Jonathan Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana. At the news conference, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein would not comment on the club's meeting with Ohtani out of respect for the player and the process.
Getting Chatwood before baseball executives gather for the Winter Meetings, which officially open on Monday, gives the Cubs a little bit of a head start. They are still in the market for another starter after losing both Jacob Arrieta and John Lackey to free agency and are looking for a new closer with Wade Davis becoming a free agent.
"Starting pitching is an area where I felt there was more demand than supply, and maybe in certain areas in the relief market, there's a lot of supply," Epstein said. "We felt if we could get the right starter on a reasonable deal before the Winter Meetings, it was something we'd like to do. Tyler was somebody we had a lot of interest in for a long time."
Whether it was the chance to be a designated hitter as well as pitch, have Michael Trout as a teammate, or play in Southern California that convinced Ohtani to chose the Angels over the Cubs and the others, only he knows.
"Shohei is humbled and flattered by all the time and effort that so many teams put into their presentations and sincerely thanks them for their professionalism," Balelo said in the statement. "In the end, he felt a strong connection with the Angels and believes they can best help him reach his goals in Major League Baseball."
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.