Shota Imanaga’s Instant Connection to the North Side, Crucial Reason Behind His Chicago Cubs Decision

Published 01/12/2024, 12:30 PM EST

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Sometimes all one needs is a “Hello”; at least that’s the story of Shota Imanaga. The first offseason signing of the Chicago Cubs, “The Throwing Philosopher” had an interesting story to tell. Leading up to his deal, a thousand things were going on inside his mind but surprisingly his heart only said one thing – Chicago.

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Having set up his base in Illinois, Imanaga got a taste of Chicago throughout his posting. While there were talks with many teams and he had several options, there was something about the Chi-Town that just wouldn’t leave Imanaga. Something that made him reject an offer far bigger than the Cubs made. 

The Windy City blew away Shota Imanaga

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The Chicago Cubs weren’t always favorites to sign Shota Imanaga. In fact, at one point they weren’t even in the race but the Japanese wished they were. In an interview with The Athletic Imanaga said “One time I mentioned, I hope the Cubs offer me. I was kind of joking just because at that time the Cubs were out of the picture.” The reason for his wish was simple – he had grown to love Chicago.

Ever since Imanaga stepped foot in the Windy City, he was blown away. Life seemed peaceful, he felt unreal comfort, it was an instant connection. During his stay, Imanaga and his group traveled across the city, taking pictures everywhere they went. It seemed the pitcher couldn’t get enough of Chicago. 

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So when the Cubs finally came with an offer, Imanaga paid close attention to it. The feeling was mutual as Cubs’ president Jed Hoyer had personally scouted Imanaga in Japan. So when the two parties met, things progressed relatively fast. As the player said, “The Cubs stepped in, their intensity level made me feel like they really wanted me.” 

Watch This Story: Delving Deep Into The Probable Reasons Behind Chicago Cubs’ Getting Nod From The Japanese Ace, Shota Imanaga, Over Other Suitors

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Their connection was strong enough that Imanaga allegedly rejected a bigger offer from another team.

How the Throwing Philosopher chose Chicago Cubs over others

The Cubs gave Imanaga a four-year $53 million contract. This could be increased to $80 million but according to Jon Heyman, there was at least one other team who was willing to double whatever the Cubs were offering. The identity of that team is currently hidden but it looks like Chicago won over more money for Imanaga.

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The Cubs too have gone on an overdrive after the Imanaga deal, with the team trading top prospects from the Los Angeles Dodgers as well. Suddenly the inactive offseason is turning into a well-planned operation. With the North Siders being money as well as prospect-rich, one wonders how many more deals can the Cubbies have.

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Written by:

Sanskar Dubey

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“Rigidity leads to demise, while adaptability paves the path to vitality." Driven by a deep passion for sports, I’m glad I found baseball. Now serving as an MLB writer at EssentiallySports, I love to write about the thrilling tussle between the National League and American League throughout the season, although I may have a fondness for a particular Yankees icon named Alex Rodriguez.
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Edited by:

Arunima Bhanot

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