1/16 Tanaka update

Could Masahiro Tanaka pick the Cubs? According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are “pushing hard” for the Japanese pitcher. Rosenthal also reports the Angels, Yankees and Dodgers are involved with the right-hander. The White Sox have confirmed that they met with Tanaka and his agent in Los Angeles. Tanaka, 25, was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings last season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, who posted the right-hander for a $20 million fee. The bidding for Tanaka will end at 4 p.m. CT on Jan. 24.

19 Comments

Let’s see. A 25 yr old phenom from Japan coming to the USA. This is the order of consideration I see in his selection process from the teams mentioned. 1. Dodgers 2. Angels 3. Yankees 4. Cubs and 5. White Sox. Hollywood, Big Apple vs Middle America. No brainer. Not that I like it, but that’s reality. Unfortunately, Cubs management deals in fantasy land options which bodes ill in deals like this.

I know. The Cubs are in on the bidding for Tanaka and seem to be preparing to make him a competitive offer. Heck, they might even offer a little more than they are comfortable with just because 25-year old free agent pitchers don’t come around every year. So if despite that, he doesn’t come to the Cubs, what could the Cubs have done different? Should they have snuck into his house at night, drug and kidnap him while he sleeps, then he comes to with a Cubs uniform on a the Cubs Convention this weekend?
If they can outbid the Yankees and Dodgers (possible since both have spent a ton of money already this offseason) and convince Tanaka that while they aren’t the favorites to win the division in 2014, the future looks a lot brighter in 2015 and beyond and the Cubs are the best place to play competitive baseball over the next 7 years not just in 2014, then good for them! If not, then they continue with the rebuild plan and maybe look into David Price at some point down the line. Either way, they’re in the Tanaka bidding and seem to be serious about it, all the while keeping with their plan of rebuilding with younger talent and not blowing all their resources on over-30 free agents who maybe have one or two good years left before they become a burden on your roster. Even if they don’t land Tanaka, I still give them credit for having a plan and sticking to it! Which is more than you can say for any other Cubs front office I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Doug, wish there was a way to give you a ( like ) on your comment.

Diamondjim23, you give your predictions for Tanaka’s new home. Then you go off on Cubs management?
So if Tanaka accepts less money because he wants to be on the West Coast/ Or he signs with the Yankees because its about as much money as he can get?
How is that Cubs Managements fault? I do not understand your line of thinking or your dislike of Cub management?
It would be great if we could debate that?

Since the Dodgers just signed Kershaw for HUGE money does that mean Tanaka is off their radar?

Tanaka ruled out Chicago……it’s between the Big Apple and Hollywood.

Sounds like Tanaka saved Cubs management a lot of money.

Where did you hear that Tanaka has ruled out Chicago? Not only does mlbtraderumors.com not have a single word about Tanaka ruling out Chicago, but their last bit of info on the Cubs and Tanaka is from this morning via Ken Rosenthal that the Cubs are “pushing hard” to get Tanaka. Please do no spread misinformation, unless you have a valid and reliable source to back it up.

If you go back several days ago on MLB Trade Rumors, you will see the story how Tanaka and his agent had it was down to NYC, LA and Boston teams.

Rosenthal is big on spreading false MLB rumors……he has to write something to fill in space.

Tanaka is NOT coming to Chicago…….now go cry in your beer Doug!

“If Masahiro Tanaka has his way, he’ll be pitching in Boston, Los Angeles or New York in 2014″, according to The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea.

Now Doug will say that “CubsTalk” is not spreading misinformation.

Thanks for providing that information. I won’t say that it’s misinformation since you did provide a credible source. However, I will point out that he doesn’t cite his own source, only says “he hears”. Doesn’t even specify if it’s a source close to Tanaka or if it’s second-hand gossip. Second, he tweeted that 6 days ago and no one else has reported the same thing since. People who are following the situation as closely and closer than he is continue to report that the Cubs are going ahead with a major offer. And how closely is he following the Tanaka bidding anyway? Considering he hasn’t tweeted anything about Tanaka since that tweet 6 days ago, I’m guessing not very closely. Lastly, it would make zero sense for Tanaka to announce or let slip that he will only take offers from five teams. The Cubs have the money and their involvement in the bidding would only drive up the price for New York, LA, or Boston.
Let me make this absolutely clear, I am not saying Tanaka will sign with the Cubs. Nor am I saying the Cubs are the frontrunner to sign Tanaka. I’m just saying that the Cubs are in on Tanaka and it’s been widely reported that they are one of the teams in on Tanaka. I’m also saying that the Yankees and the Dodgers have spent a lot of money this offseason, so one of them signing Tanaka isn’t as sure of a thing as people might think. He could very well end up in NY or LA anyway, but it’s not a slam dunk, there is reason for teams other than NY or LA to give him an offer, and I’ll take the word of the reporting of many these past few days over one single sourceless tweet from one guy almost a week ago whose barely followed the story to begin with. So I will not cry in my beer. I think I’ll drink it instead and order up another round.

Price has signed an arbitration offer of $14M.

Several weeks ago when Tanaka came on the scene I stated “Be careful what we wish for”. I still feel that way. Call it ESP or what you will, I think that whoever gets Tanaka may end up regretting the day. Pending injury, inability to adapt to MLB, there is some gut feeling I have about this player. And, of course, only time will tell.

It’s okay to be worried about committing a lot of money to one player, but injury is a part of the game and you take that risk with anyone you sign, especially pitchers. The Dodgers just gave Kershaw $215 million, so what happens if he sprains his elbow or tears his rotator cuff on opening day? He’s young, but he’s thrown a lot of innings the past few years. Still, I doubt the Dodgers are regretting locking him up and taking their chances that he doesn’t get hurt. As for adapting to MLB, I still think that’s not really an issue either. I said it before and I’ll say it again, scouting has advanced light years since the days of Hideo Nomo coming overseas. I’m sure every MLB team has a Japanese scout or at the very least extensive video on Tanaka. Sure, you don’t know what you’re getting for sure because he hasn’t faced MLB players, but you can say the same thing about deciding who to draft in the first round of the draft. The Cubs don’t know how Kris Bryant will fare against MLB pitching, but they’ve seen enough to be willing to take that chance. Still, it is good to be cautious and not go jumping into something you might regret. That being said, I trust this Cubs front office to have done their due diligence and at least have a good idea of what they are potentially getting into. Gone are the days where Jim Hendry outbids himself and throws in an extra year an a no-trade clause to boot. We, as fans, need to move beyond that mindset too.

Thank you Doug for your response. Everything you said is true and very well explained. I don’t usually have these negative vibes about a player and that is why I am concerned about signing Tanaka. Wish I knew why I do but just can’t explain it. Hope you are 100percent right!

This is just something I refuse to get excited about. If signed by the Cubs, of course I wish him the very best. If I were a GM, would I be after Tanaka like Epstein/Hoyer? Not a chance.
However they think this is a good move, I have nothing negative to say.
Cubs Talk ruled the Cubs out, I would just agree with him rather than debate it. Nothing to get excited about until the signature is dried on the contract.

Having been associated with baseball for years with college ball and mlb affiliations along with being part Japanese, having lived in Japan as well as to be with a ball club there, and a life long Cubs fan, I would not get too excited about Tanaka coming to Chicago. Sure I would love for him to come but I know from first hand experience the expectations and desires of future ball players coming from there, and sad to say, usually they want to be a part of a contender. The way it is set up now, even though the “entrance fee,” has been capped, the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) and its players are in the driver’s seat. They can dictate, at least at the beginning of a player’s MLB career where they go. If they had to enter the draft like everyone else it would be a different story. Also, for the NPB and the people, the pride that comes with one of theirs playing not only in the MLB but for a contender is immense and Major League Baseball knows this too. Lastly, growing up in America with the opportunity to live and exercise certain traditions, as I said earlier I lived in Japan, Tanaka and his agent will meet with every team if they have to, not because they must. But rather, it is “saving face for them,” and for every team that will not get Tanaka. But at least they all had a chance at a “sit-down,” with him. Some will say my folks are overly polite, there is some truth to that as well as years of tradition. Again, I would love for him to choose our Cubbies but would not be surprised at all if he ends up on the West Coast (yes having ramen and good ramen is important and in the states the best is either in Hawaii or up and down the West Coast) and a contender like the Dodgers and/or the recent moves by the Mariners with “Ichiro’s” history there is a big plus. New York will always be in play because of the love and admiration Nihonjin have for the pinstripes as well as Texas because of Darvish. Tanaka-san ganbatene!

I know you posted the same thing a few days ago and thank you for your insight both times. However, I find it hard to believe that a person in any culture that stands to make over a $100 million will base their decision on where you can get the best ramen. Yu Darvish for example. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see Texas as being a hotbed for Japanese cuisine and culture. Same goes for Norichika Aoki and Milwaukee. Unless I missed that episode of Laverne & Shirley where they go to Milwaukee’s Little Tokyo District.
Likewise, I don’t see the Cubs wasting their time going through the motions if it’s known that Tanaka is only meeting with them to save face. Theo Epstein has dealt with Japanese players before, in Boston with Dice-K and Okajima and in Chicago with Fujikawa. I’m guessing he knows what he’s doing and knows if Tanaka would seriously consider the Cubs if the price is right. As for wanting to go to a contender, the Cubs know they are still 2-3 years away without Tanaka and even with him probably not until 2015 at the earliest. So it will be up to them to convince Tanaka that they expect to be a competitor starting in 2015 and expect their window to be open for the duration of his contract. On the other hand, the Dodgers and Yankees are full of big bad contracts and aging players. While both might be in it in 2014, there’s no telling where those teams will be in 2015 and beyond. All they have to do is point to the Phillies, who were the toast of the NL in the late 2000s, but are now stuck with guys like Ryan Howard who are past their prime but still being paid prime bucks.
Do I expect the Cubs to sign Tanaka? No. Am I excited over the prospect of Tanaka somehow pitching for the Cubs? No more than I would be over any other free agent. If I had to put money on it, I’d put money on the Yankees or Dodgers against the field, but I’m not assuming it’s a slam dunk that he will wind up there. The Cubs are going to try their best to convince Tanaka of everything I mentioned above and give him over 100 million reasons why he should pick them over New York or LA. And if Tanaka doesn’t realize that you can buy all the good ramen you could ever want want 100 million no matter where you live, then I won’t feel sorry for him when he’s pitching on a Dodgers or Yankees team that resembles the 2013 Phillies in a year or two.

Konnichi-wa Doug-
I was being a little sarcastic with the ramen, though I know how much it means to my relatives and those I know in baseball from Nihon, Japan. I should have left that out. Yes, Dallas may not be a hotbed for Japanese cuisine but it was more of a contender and their organization is in a different place then where the Cubs are today. Also, Darvish-sama is considered a little of a “rebel,” when it comes to Japanese and was very open about looking somewhere else besides the two “Coasts”. Tanaka comes from a more traditional background but could surprise folks where he goes. My main reason for posting multiple times is that we as Cub fans should not get too excited about Tanaka. I feel maybe for “ratings-news-etc” this is really being hyped up and I know folks both on the Japan side as well as state side as well as growing up in the culture that we had better not get our expectations set too high here, unless the Cubs go and do something crazy and frankly spend money foolishly. Of course I would love for Tanaka to come over here and do well in the MLB, the RedSox had hoped the same for Dice-K. With the Cubs going through some big changes and re-working from top to bottom, including the farm system this may not be the best fit or use of funds. So, in some ways I wish they would give this story a rest, other than it gives them something to talk about. We need to be realistic and the reality is Tanaka and his agent are in the driver’s seat and unless his whole objective is that he thinks he can turn around an organization overnight and make it a contender, which I do not think he thinks, then knowing and growing up Japanese that is not the type of pressure he would want solely on his shoulders…He would rather be in an organization that has already made significant moves but may need a few pieces left to be a major contender. Our Cubbies are not there, they will one day but not today. And do not discount my posting about “saving face,” as this is huge in the culture meaning not that they are not serious when meeting with the Cubs or even Whitesox but unlike in our culture here in the US, where a meeting could signal something positive in regard to a certain outcome, that is not always the case with Nihonjin. So, that is my reason for posting over and over again because it is time for us to move on and be realistic with what the management is doing or willing to do in order to keep moving the Cubs towards a WS. I want the best for our Cubbies too and am realistic as to what they will do. Gunbatene Cubbies!

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