Cubs Ace Recalls Incredible Moment When He Knew He Wanted to Join Franchise

Chicago Cubs ace Shota Imanaga recalls the moment he knew he wanted to become a Chicago Cub.
 Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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The Chicago Cubs got everything and more from Shota Imanaga than they could have hoped for when they signed him out of Japan this past winter on a four-year, $53 million contract.

While Yoshinobu Yamamoto was the talk of the town and ultimately signed the largest contract in pitching history with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's been Imanaga who has stolen the show.

In fact, Imanaga has been the best pitcher in baseball this season as he owns a 0.84 ERA over 53.2 innings pitched. The Japanese phenom leads all of MLB in winning percentage, ERA, ERA+ and FIP. For a rookie, he is doing historic things. A Rookie of the Year award and Cy Young are not only not out of the picture, but he is favored heavily for both at this juncture.

How he became a Cub is an interesting story and a lot of it had to do with college football.

According to ESPN, Imanaga began his relationship with Chicago's front office early on and even caught an Iowa and Northwestern football game in November as it took place at Wrigley Field.

"I came here and they were playing football," he told ESPN. "I saw that home plate was covered. And they said the scoreboard was really old. I liked it."

Since then, apparently Imanaga has been smitten over the stadium, club, culture and the city. Regardless of how it happened, the Cubs organization and its fans are happy he decided to make the move and join the franchise.

Now, hopes are high as Chicago sits firmly in the National League Central race with the Milwaukee Brewers all while it currently holds a Wild Card spot.

Things are looking up on the North Side and much of it has to do with Imanaga's historic performance on the mound.

Kade Kistner


Kade Kistner is the publisher and beat writer for Sports Illustrated's Inside the Cubs. An alumnus of Tulane University, Kade graduated in 2017 with a degree in Latin American Studies and a minor in Spanish. Upon graduation, Kade commissioned into the United States Navy and attended Naval Flight School in Pensacola, Fl. He served as a Naval Aviator and was stationed in Jacksonville, Fl. During his time in school and the Navy, Kade began covering the MLB and NFL with USA Today, SB Nation, and Sports Illustrated. Kade covered the New Orleans Saints, Texas Rangers, and numerous other teams within the Sports Illustrated network before launching Inside the Phillies, Inside the Astros, and Inside the Cubs. You can follow him on Twitter at @KadeKistner, or if you have any questions or comments he can be reached via email at