Chicago Cubs fans that have allowed themselves to dream of the team signing prized Japanese free agent Shohei Otani haven’t had their hopes dashed just yet, according to a report.
While teams like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and, yes, the Chicago White Sox were all informed they were out of the running for Otani’s services, the Cubs are one of a handful of teams that will be invited to meet with him, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, and Texas Rangers have also been granted meetings, according to reports.
The sweepstakes to land Otani has been one of the most remarkable in recent baseball history, as teams are salivating over his ability to pitch well and to hit the ball with power. Otani has been clocked at 100 MPH with his fastball, posted a 3.20 ERA in his final season with the Nippon Ham Fighters, and also hit eight home runs and drove in 31 RBI in 65 games.
He has expressed a desire to pitch and to play the outfield in the big leagues, and one could easily see Joe Maddon being the type of manager that would permit that kind of flexibility if Otani were to sign with the Cubs.
Reports have surfaced that Otani is likely leaning toward a West Coast team in a smaller market, but with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s reputation as master salesmen, the Cubs are still very much a threat to land Otani, according to a report from NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan.