Cubs Looking at Matt Chapman, Still Have Interest in Rhys Hoskins While Awaiting Shohei Ohtani Decision

The Cubs will remain focused on Shohei Ohtani until he makes the decision that is keeping all of baseball in suspense, but that doesn’t mean Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins are just sitting around waiting. Hawkins addressed the media in Nashville on Monday because Hoyer and manager Craig Counsell had not yet arrived at the Winter Meetings for some mysterious reason. The GM laid out the organization’s basic strategy for building a winner and also talked about what’s happening behind the scenes.

“While there’s not a lot of action in terms of things coming to fruition, there is a lot of action in terms of preparation to be able to make those decisions quickly, should they come across our desk quickly,” Hawkins explained.

Some of the players they’re targeting could be in play regardless of what happens with Ohtani, as the Cubs want a short-term vet or three to ease the transition of their top prospects. That could include Rhys Hoskins, who they’ve been linked to previously as an option to solidify first base. Jon Heyman reiterated that interest in a recent column, adding that the Cubs are “looking at” former A’s and Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman.

That seems like more of a fallback to Ohtani going elsewhere, though it’s not fair to categorize it as such. Chapman and Cody Bellinger, who Heyman also linked to his old team, are both in line for the kind of significant multiyear deals the Cubs probably aren’t willing to hand out in addition to committing half a billion dollars to a megastar. Chapman’s glove is outstanding, but there are big questions about his offensive output after a poor second half in Toronto.

He’s also entering his age-31 season, whereas Bellinger, who’s got some possible red flags of his own at the plate, won’t turn 29 until July. The two can’t really be compared due to their disparate positions, but both are on the table provided their respective asking prices end up making sense.

Then there’s the trade market, where the Cubs figure to be active as they seek to add pitching in particular. Bruce Levine predicted that a deal for Tyler Glasnow gets done before everyone leaves the Music City, though no one else seems quite so confident that an acquisition is imminent.

“Obviously, not a ton of deals that have come to fruition, but I think teams are very active looking for fits,” Hawkins told reporters. “And I think we’ve checked in with all 29 teams at this point and would expect those conversations to continue to be active not only this week but over the course of the next couple of months.”

Everything has been slow to this point, but that will all change once Ohtani signs. A Juan Soto trade could follow shortly thereafter and Yoshinobu Yamamoto‘s decision should trigger all kinds of movement among the top available pitchers. I’d imagine we’ll end up with a pretty wild December when it’s all said and done.

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