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Cubs — like all of MLB — in limbo awaiting offseason dominoes to fall

3 months agoAndy Martinez

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Cubs fans, like the rest of the baseball world are on the edge of their seat waiting for the offseason moves to really kick off in earnest.

So, what’s the hold-up?

“Honestly, I think everybody getting sick [at last month’s GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.] slowed the market down,” Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins said. “That narrative hasn’t picked up in the media. But I just think about all the calls that I made and guys were like ‘I’m sorry, man, I can’t talk, I’m literally like just dying over here.’”

Really? A stomach bug holding everything up? Not a certain fish swimming in the free agent market?

“I’m really trying to be funny, which doesn’t always work,” Hawkins joked. “I do honestly think that that was that did slow things down for a couple of days … But yeah — take the sickness aside — I think certainly having a bunch of teams locked up, potentially locked up into some large, large guys — that slows things down.”

[WATCH: Cubs GM Carter Hawkins discusses team’s approach to free agency.]

The biggest catch, of course, is Shohei Ohtani.

The bulk of the baseball world congregated at the Gaylord Opryland Resort knows when Ohtani picks his next destination things could pick up — and pick up fast. Hawkins and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, who wasn’t in Nashville early Monday due to personal reasons, are in that holding pattern.

The financial commitment that Ohtani is expected to command understandably means that teams must wait and see how they can proceed if they do or don’t acquire him. In a perfect world, the Cubs could pivot from Plan A to Plan B seamlessly and fill out their roster as they must.

“[But] it’s way too complex of a challenge to actually do that,” Hawkins said. “And so instead, you have to be able to look at each individual transaction and say, ‘Hey, like, this makes sense for us in terms of our goals towards winning more baseball games now and in the future.’ And you have to be prepared to make all of those decisions.

“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.”

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There’s no clarity on when the Ohtani decision may come. His free agency has been shrouded in mystery and silence. The Cubs are keeping their toes dipped in many waters — other free agents and the trade market, which could pick up, too.

“Obviously, not a ton of deals that have come to fruition, but I think teams are very active looking for fits,” Hawkins said. “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.”

Even those, though, are somewhat held up by the Ohtani decisions. If a team waiting on Ohtani misses out, do they pivot to Juan Soto or another bat on the trade market? That’s also part of the equation. For now, the Cubs, like their fans and the rest of the baseball world, are in Ohtani limbo.

“When you have someone as unique as the players at the top of the market that just creates a new dynamic,” Hawkins said. “But there will always be something really interesting every offseason. And I think we’ll look back and say we’ve tried to make the best decisions we could and there’s just some unique circumstances this time and there’ll be unique circumstances next time.”

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