Cubs in hot pursuit of Ohtani? Here’s what it means

Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff WriterNov 16, 2023, 08:04 AM ET

CloseJesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers MLB for Extended Reactions

CHICAGO — If only the designated hitter rule had come to the National League prior to 2022. It could have changed the course of Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani‘s career — as well as the trajectory of the Chicago Cubs. At least that’s what the Cubs were thinking when they pursued him back in 2017, before he signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

“It was pretty clear he wanted to do both [hitting and pitching], and DHing was the best option for that,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said last week at the general managers meetings. “As good as the meeting with him went, we always knew it was going to be an uphill climb.”

The Cubs were one of seven finalists for Ohtani’s services back then — and one of two not located on the West Coast. At the time, Chicago was in the middle of a winning window, having made the NLCS three straight seasons, taking home a World Series championship in 2016.

“We had things rolling pretty well at that point,” Hoyer said. “I think he

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