Let's get a disclaimer out of the way first: Every single team in baseball is a fit for Shohei Ohtani.
Who wouldn't want a 23-year-old pitcher who can touch triple digits with his fastball, provide quality at-bats (and power) from the left side and only costs a few million of payroll (plus a $20 million posting fee)?
But the Cubs may be the best fit in Major League Baseball for the young Japanese phenom.
Because the money is so reasonable — Ohtani could've made hundreds of millions and would've incited a bidding war unlike anything we've seen if he waited to be posted until he turned 25 — dollar signs aren't going to sway his decision in choosing where he spends the next few years of his life.
Which is something he acknowledged in Jorge L. Ortiz's article at USA TODAY earlier this week:
Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, asked teams not to submit financial terms. More significantly, restrictions on international signings will limit Ohtani’s bonus to a maximum of about $3.5 million, depending on the club he chooses, and allow him to sign only a minor-league deal.
That makes him affordable to all teams, although they would also have to put up a posting fee of $20 million for the right to negotiate with him.
The letter asks the teams to provide information, in English and Japanese, on matters such as their player-development and medical staffs, their facilities, resources to ease Ohtani’s assimilation and the desirability of the franchise, city and marketplace. It also requests the clubs’ evaluation of Ohtani as a hitter and/or pitcher.
Let's start with player development and medical staffs — the Cubs have done a remarkable job of keeping pitchers healthy over the last few seasons even as they've played far more games than anybody else in baseball (though it will be interesting to see if that health continues with pitching coach Chris Bosio gone). The Cubs also have arguably the best young core in the game, so player development is a serious check in the Cubs' favor.
The Cubs' facilities are also top-notch in spring training and now in Chicago as well with the two-year-old state-of-the-art clubhouse and utilities.
Players have also raved recently about how the Cubs organization takes care of the players and their families off the field, treating them as more than just assets and making everybody in the player's family feel comfortable. Under Theo Epstein's regime, the Cubs have hosted a handful of Japanese players — Kyuji Fujikawa, Tsyoshi Wada, Munenori Kawasaki and most recently Koji Uehara — and the young clubhouse has created and environment of acceptance, regardless of background.
It doesn't get much more desirable than Chicago in the summer (I'm biased as a Chicago native, of course) plus historic Wrigley Field, a franchise with title expectations every season and a young core that should be competing in October every fall for the next few years. Only New York or Los Angeles could offer more in terms of a market than Chicago.
The Cubs front office and Joe Maddon's coaching staff are also very open-minded to bucking conventions, so they should have no problem with Ohtani playing both ways.
What manager would be better at maximizing Ohtani's two-way abilities than Maddon? He's always looking for the next "Madd Scientist" experiment to go against the grain.
The Cubs need a starting pitcher and if they trade from their core of young position players this winter, that would open up some playing time in the outfield for Ohtani.
Conceivably, the Cubs could pitch Ohtani on a Monday, sit him on Tuesday, start him Wednesday or Thursday or both in the outfield, then sit him again Friday and have him take his regular turn in the rotation Saturday. On his days off, Ohtani could also be utilized as a bat off the bench at the most opportune time late in a game.
Ohtani will have his choice of where he wants to play, but the Cubs certainly appear to check all the boxes.