The biggest fish in baseball's offseason pond made some waves Sunday evening.
According to multiple reports, the New York Yankees are out of the running for Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese import who dazzles as both a pitcher and a hitter. That was big enough news regarding Ohtani, but some additional details being reported could have a big impact on the Cubs' pursuit.
Apparently, Ohtani is telling teams he prefers to play for a smaller-market team, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is saying that Ohtani wants to play on the West Coast, too, which lines up with another report saying the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners are among the finalists to sign Ohtani.
haven't heard yanks are officially out, but ohtani is telling teams he prefers a smaller market. which could bode well for twins, mariners, padres, pirates, etc. https://t.co/eXM88aPVPb— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2017
Cashman said that Ohtani’s reps told him they were very impressed with team’s presentation, but no matter how good it was, the Yankees couldn’t make themselves West Coast or a smaller market.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 3, 2017
Sources: Shohei Ohtani continues to narrow the field for his meetings next week. The New York Yankees are out. The San Francisco Giants are one of the finalists. The Seattle Mariners also are in.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2017
not all the precincts are in, but the sense some are getting is that ohtani likes the west coast.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2017
Now, while the Cubs — along with plenty of other teams — aren't mentioned in any of that, all that info would seem to be bad news for those hoping to see Ohtani on the North Side next season. Cashman, among others, seems to know which teams are in the running for Ohtani's services, and the Cubs in no way fit the Yankees' general manager's description of a small-market team on the West Coast.
Again, because the Cubs are not mentioned at all and haven't been reported as in or out of the chase for baseball's top offseason target, the door remains open that they're in the running as much as anyone else.
In fact, one report lists the Cubs as a "possible exception" to the West Coast rule.
Sources briefed on Ohtani cutdown tell me "heavy West Coast" flavor to final list. #Cubs a possible exception along with SEA, SF, SD and both LA clubs.— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) December 3, 2017
But there sure are a lot of signs pointing to Ohtani preferring to play out West, meaning perhaps Theo Epstein's front office is facing an uphill battle when it comes to convincing Ohtani to come to Chicago.