The Cubs could be a surprising entrant into the Ohtani sweepstakes
The Cubs have already made one surprising move this offseason when they hired Craig Counsell away from the division-rival Brewers even though they had already publicly committed to David Ross for 2024. Life comes at you fast. The Cubs are certainly trying to be competitive after signing Dansby Swanson, and their late-season collapse this year, which cost them a playoff spot, may have given them extra motivation going into free agency.
However, it was still somewhat surprising to hear at least one National League executive say that he expected Chicago to make a huge push for Ohtani. The Cubs typically don't play in the deepest part of the free agent pool, and Ohtani's contract could mean committing $500+ million over the next decade. However, they certainly could use his bat next season with Cody Bellinger hitting free agency. Also, the 2-for-1 upside may be too good to pass up.
Ohtani could be persuaded by the Mets given Steve Cohen's open wallet approach
Look, anytime a high-profile free agent hits the market, the Mets are going to be mentioned as a potential landing spot. Steve Cohen has no issue spending in a carefree manner and he really, really wants to bring a World Series trophy back to Queens. The Mets may be talking about shifting their attention to the future more than the 2024 season, but Ohtani would be under contract for that window as well and would instantly lend even more credibility to their title aspirations.
The problem here is that Ohtani may not want to wait around for the Mets to figure things out. The 2023 season was an absolute disaster for the Mets after they committed the GDP of a small country into a roster that finished fourth in the NL East and 12 games below .500. New York may be willing to pay Ohtani, but it does seem like a big part of his decision calculus right now is wanting to play for a contender, and the Mets are a bit of a mess.