12/9 Cubs pitching budget

The Cubs feel they can fit both Jeff Samardzija and Masahiro Tanaka in their budget if the Japanese pitcher becomes available. It also could depend on what it will take to get Samardzija to stay. Samardzija, 28, the Cubs’ Opening Day starter who racked up 200 innings and 200 strikeouts this season, has been talking to the team about a long-term extension. He made $2.64 million this year.

“I think we’ve made it really clear that he’s a guy we’d like to keep,” GM Jed Hoyer said Monday at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “We love the way he competes and he’s continued to improve as a pitcher. Certainly having him as a Cub is a desirable outcome.”

Tanaka’s status has yet to be determined as Major League Baseball and Japanese baseball officials try to update the posting system. The Cubs expect to be part of the process regarding Tanaka, 25, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 regular season games with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Neither Samardzija nor Tanaka will be cheap. Samardzija will be a free agent after the 2015 season. All he has to do is look at recent contracts for starting pitchers to know he could cash in. Phil Hughes, 27, recently got a three-year, $24 million deal from the Twins.

“They’re not attached at all — it’s not an either, or type thing,” Hoyer said about being able to afford the two pitchers. “We obviously like Samardzija a lot and Tanaka is a talented pitcher. We’re not looking at them joined or not joined. There’s no influence on each other.”

— Carrie Muskat


Have just read an interesting article about Tanaka on the Internet. A lot of differences between Japanese baseball and MLB Major League Baseball and the difficulty the pitchers have when they come to the USA. Aces in Japan more often than not fail when they come here. Perhaps we shouldn’t put him on our wish list.

It’s tough to say because the Japanese league is not as good as the Major Leagues, but better than AAA overall. That’s why when they say a player is a 4A type guy (a superstar at AAA, but a dud at the Majors), more times than not that player will wind up in Japan (eg. Matt Murton, Bryan LaHair, Micah Hoffpauir, ect.). Will Tanaka have a sub 2.00 ERA in the Majors like he did in Japan? I doubt it. But there are some success stories out of Japan. Yu Darvish is a front-of-the-rotation pitcher now. Dice-K was for his first couple seasons before arm troubles derailed his career. Hideo Nomo was a solid pitcher for several seasons. There were a number of relief pitchers who were decent too. Really, the only epic Japanese pitcher failure I can think of off the top of my head was Hideki Irabu. Besides, with scouting more advanced today than ever, I think most teams have at least a decent idea of how Tanaka’s stuff compares to Major League talent. The fact that none of the big money teams are backing away from him shows he probably has the talent to compete in the Majors. So for the Cubs, the only questions they should have is can they get him without seriously overpaying for him and can he adjust to the longer season and heavier travel schedule?

Thank you, Doug. I appreciate your response and your thoughts on pursuing Tanaka. If he does come to the Cubs I hope he would be a success story and be able to adjust to all things new. Pitching, pitching – we need pitching!

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