The Cubs fell short in their bid to land free-agent pitcher-hitter Shohei Ohtani, who agreed to terms Friday with the Los Angeles Angels.
Just as they did three years ago with pitcher Jon Lester, the Cubs did their best to woo Ohtani to Chicago, meeting with him on the West Coast and extolling the virtues of being a Cub.
But Cubs president Theo Epstein late last week said the organization doesn’t have to do a selling job to players, even though that’s what they were doing.
The Cubs did enough to land free-agent pitcher Tyler Chatwood, who signed Thursday.
“I don’t think we ever sell anything,” Epstein said. “When it come to players like Tyler, you just engage in conversations, talk about how we try to go about winning here, how we go about trying to treat our players and hear his perspective, what he’s looking for in a team, what he’s looking for in teammates and what he’s looking for in the front office.
“It’s just a good baseball conversation, and that way hopefully the players end up where they want to be and where they’re supposed to be and you end up with a type of player and person that you want. It’s an exchange of ideas. And you always just tell the truth. You don’t get in ‘sell’ mode. When you start selling something, you’ve got to be careful what you end up with.”
Svelte Schwarber: Based on photos circulated online, it appears left fielder Kyle Schwarber is slim and trim. The Cubs’ media guide lists Schwarber at 6-foot-0, 235 pounds.
This past season, Schwarber hit 30 home runs, with a batting line of .211/.315/.467. He had 59 walks and 150 strikeouts.
Epstein praised Schwarber’s offseason work.
“It was mutual,” he said. “We brought it up with him. He told us that he had made it a priority that he was going to get in the best shape of his life and realize now that to be the left fielder he needs to be and be the hitter that he needs to be that this is something that he wanted to do, to take control of the controllables. You can control what kind of shape you get into in the off-season. A lot of this game you can’t control. He’s looking to dominate everything under his control. This one of them.”
Hard to say goodbye: Epstein had good words to say about reliever Hector Rondon, to whom the Cubs did not tender a contract.
In five seasons, Rondon racked up 77 saves, good for sixth on the team’s all-time leaderboard. He lost his closer’s job in the middle of the 2016 season, when the Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman. They obtained Wade Davis to close in 2017.
“It was tough,” Epstein said of letting Rondon become a free agent. “He helped us win a World Series. He’s helped us get to the [championship series] three years in a row and been a huge part of this turnaround.
“We certainly thanked him for everything that he’s done. I think this will end up being good for him, get him in a spot where he can pitch reliable innings late in the game. He thrives on pitching deep in the game and being trusted with that kind of role. It just evolved to a point where that was a little bit tough for him here, but I think he’s got a lot of good baseball left ahead of him.”