Theo Epstein will have to wait to get another shot at his White Whale.
Shohei Ohtani made his decision Friday and opted for the Los Angeles Angels over the Cubs.
Epstein and the Cubs went in hard on the 23-year-old pitcher/hitter, rumored to have pulled out all the stops with an exceptionally-creative bid. They reportedly even had a virtual reality experience for Ohtani:
In the end, Ohtani opted to go with a team further out west, which was said to be one of his main points of contention when choosing an MLB team:
In the statement announcing Shohei Ohtani will sign with the Los Angeles Angels, agent Nez Balelo said: “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.”— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2017
The Angels now have Ohtani for the next six years on a ridiculously team friendly deal and will have to figure out the best way for the young Japanese sensation to get some at-bats on the days he doesn't pitch. Plus, he's paired with the best player in the game (Mike Trout) and is a huge boost as the team around baseball's GOAT has been unable to get Trout into the postseason the last few years.
👀— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) December 8, 2017
This is one of the best-case scenarios for the Cubs if Ohtani didn't pick Chicago. Of the final seven teams, Ohtani choosing the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres or San Francisco Giants would've directly impacted their road to another National League pennant. Imagine the Dodgers — a team that absolutely overwhelmed the Cubs in the NLCS — adding Ohtani's 102 mph fastball and left-handed power bat on top of their already-stacked core.
The Cubs will turn their attention to filling out the rest of their starting rotation in free agency or on the trade market. After inking Tyler Chatwood to a three-year deal Thursday, the Cubs only have one spot open in their rotation and could op to sign a guy like Alex Cobb, pluck a couple of buy-low candidates off the market or trade one of their young hitters for a dynamic arm.
The Cubs will see Ohtani, Trout and the Angels in spring training, with exhibition games scheduled for March 2 and 9.