Masahiro Tanaka Reportedly a Top Priority for the Cubs

According to a report from Phil Rogers, Masahiro Tanaka has “become a top priority for Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts and his baseball group, headed by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.” Tanaka’s team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, is expected to post the soon-to-be 25-year old right hander as soon as the Japan Series ends.

Rumors have suggested the Cubs would be one of the bidders for Tanaka this off-season prior to Rogers’ report. The Cubs will be among several teams that are believed to include the Rangers, Dodgers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners, Giants and Yankees, to submit a bid for Tanaka. Most think the Yankees will not allow another team to outbid them for the opportunity to negotiate a contract with Tanaka. The posting fee and contract is expected to exceed $100 million and top what the Rangers paid for Yu Darvish ($107.7 million, six-year, $56 million contract that includes incentives plus $51,703,411 posting fee).

The posting system is expected to be restructured and that could impact where Tanaka lands in the big leagues. Under the old system, the team that submitted the highest sealed bid was awarded a window to negotiate a deal with the player. The Japanese team would receive the posting fee once the player signed with the Major League team. Under the new system, the player will have more choices about which team he can play for. According to a report from Baseball America in August, “one of the changes could include a system in which the posting fee would be capped, which in theory would give more money to the player than the Japanese team and allow MLB to count more money against the luxury tax.” Ben Badler explained, “in turn, multiple teams could then be allowed to win the posting rights and compete for the player.” It was uncertain in August what changes would be made to the posting system.

Newsday reported in September that “one of the proposals for a new system would have as many as three teams chosen among the top bidders, with the Japanese player then allowed to choose the club he’d prefer to play for and negotiate with.”

What changes will be made to the posting system are unclear at this point, but MLB teams received a memo from the commissioner’s office, earlier this year, that MLB and the Nippon Professional Baseball “were in discussions regarding potential revisions to the protocol agreement between the two leagues.” Kim Ng acknowledged to Newsday that the two sides are discussing the issues involving the posting process and are working through “different scenarios and resolutions.”

Masahiro Tanaka has not said that he will be posted after the Nippon Series concludes, but most expect he will be posted and the bidding will begin.

During the two years that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have led baseball operations for the Cubs, the team has lost out on Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Yu Darvish and Hyun-Jin Ryu simply because they were outbid by the Athletics, Rangers and Dodgers. The Cubs were reportedly runner-ups for both Cespedes and Ryu while the posting bid they are believed to have submitted for Darvish was about half of the Rangers winning bid. The Cubs did land Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler with a nine-year, $30 million contract.

While he was still employed at ESPN Chicago, Bruce Levine reported Tanaka would be the Cubs’ number one priority of the off-season.

Phil Rogers reported the Cubs “are expected to be among the most heavily represented teams at the Japan Series” to watch Masahiro Tanaka.

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  • CubbyDenCritic

    I don’t see the Cubs spending big $$$$ on F/A.

  • paulcatanese

    This is the one of the reasons I am losing interest in Baseball, it has become ridiculous .

    • RynoTiger

      now Paul, to post that critique of MLB and the extraordinary money and salaries, you are required to pay MLB..but the good news is that critiques only cost $1 million. they’ll take check, credit card, cash or pay pal.

      • SuzyS

        :-), :-) :-)…HaHa.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      the money getting thrown around is mindless……in all sports…….only the one percent will be able to see these games in person one day.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Frankly, I don’t think you have a thing to worry about. They won’t sign him
      because they won’t be the highest poster in this bidding war.

      It’s more talk to keep the unhappy season ticket holders a holding their tickets.

      But I do agree with you: it’s all insane.

    • GaryLeeT

      There is a reason the NFL is number one…..by a lot. A salary cap, and no guaranteed contracts makes for hungry players.

  • SuzyS

    I fully expected this…whether the Cubs are winners or not. Tanaka is the only big $$$ FA (I know,…it’s international), that makes any sense.
    Ricketts has to make the appearance at least of going after him in a big way.
    The Yankees SHOULD win this derby…but Theo has been all about beating the Yankees throughout his ML career. This should be pretty interesting…especially if they do make changes to the posting system.

    I’m glad the Cubs are at least coming out and saying this is their number one priority…It’s what I expected…IF…they truly want to get to the WS.

    Paul…I agree that the $$$ are ridiculous…especially for unproven players…baseball needs to adopt some sort of a pay for performance basis for contracts….but the player’s association and agents would be up in arms like crazy.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Suzy, when several teams go under for lack of attendance and bad debt or retraction begins, maybe the Union will ask for 35 man rosters from the owners to keep their guys happy………in all honesty, it is too late to close the barn door….all the horses ran out.

    • Sonate

      I agree the $$$ are insane, but it’s an open market. Nobody is holding a gun to the owners’ heads to tender some of these ridiculous (e.g., Pujols) contracts. If a team does eventually “go under” it will be primarily, if not exclusively, due to managerial incompetence.

      • TheWrongGuy

        I agree. Yet remember, this is a posting… So The CUBS could play a “wild card” on this with the inability to sign. Which will make Tanaka a FA next year and they get their posting fee back. Just a thought. As we all know Theo loves to make moves against the Yank’s.

        • Ripsnorter1

          To bad the Yanks are in the other league.

          • TheWrongGuy

            Then why did Theo play against the Yank’s for Lim and Fujikawa? His buddies are in Boston. His farm system, he built is in Boston. They have a good farm system their in Boston with some nice arms that close to MLB ready. If he blocks the Yanks he gains friends like Boston/Baltimore/Tampa Bay/Toronto, just to name a few. All of those teams are good trade partners with good to above average farm systems. It is how you make friends or trade buddies for the future.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Oh.

            I thought maybe he was trying to win friends to they might hire him when he’s done here.

          • TheWrongGuy

            Anything could be true. My observation is purely skeptical.
            And true he could be setting-up for his next job. Sorry I did’t say it was my opinion. I thought it was obvious. =)

          • Ripsnorter1

            It is obvious that it was your opinion. It just never occurred to me
            that he was trying to set up trade partners by competing with the Yanks.

            : )

          • TheWrongGuy

            No worries.
            Well Baltimore was interested in Fujikawa, and we made a trade partner there.
            New York was interested in one of them if not both before we got them… AND I believe the Yanks posted for Fujikawa then was unable to sign him and he became a FA, we signed him. *he would have been cheaper as a FA then posting then signing* Also I think Theo is done dealing with the Yanks after trading away the BAD contract this past season(see I didn’t say his name). It’s just something that I noticed as a trend of Theo’s and Jed’s.

          • SuzyS

            WrongGuy…I like your thinking…a little outside of the box…BUT…if you grew up in Boston, (like Theo did), the Yankees were always the #1 rivalry in baseball……anytime,
            anyway, anything you could do to beat the Yankees…you would do it.
            Theo, with the help of the entire organization, found a way to compete and beat the Yankees.

            It’s one of the reasons I think Theo is the right man for the Cubs…he competed against the best on a regular basis…and won.

            It might be really hard to see right now…but I really believe
            that a new Golden Age of the Cubs is coming.

          • TheWrongGuy

            No worries I am not against Theo or the BoSox.
            I agree a new age of Cubbies are for sure coming.

          • TheWrongGuy

            Oh and I forgot to say.
            Good Morning! =)

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Before we spend big money on Tanaka…..remember Fukudome…..Fujikawa….Choi.

    • GaryLeeT

      I am not trying to hit you hard here, but Choi was a Korean.

    • Eugene Debs

      Fukudome would be one of our top outfielders right now.

  • GaryLeeT

    Because of Theo’s experience with the Matsuzaka signing, he of all people knows exactly how much it takes to land one of these Japanese players. I expect him to reach for Tanaka in the same manner he went after Darvish………with alligator arms.

    • SuzyS

      Ricketts and his budget against the Yankees and Texas will determine whether we are a true
      player in the Tanaka sweepstakes.
      Somebody will overpay…and then there is a question as to whether he is a true TOR…that will be worth the investment.
      Either way, it’s a high risk/possible high reward
      tightrope.

    • K_Gripp

      I expect Theo to “check in” on a lot of players, as he calls it. I also dont have any high expectations that we will sign any of them. I think there are 4-5 things that this FO could do in the off season to be playoff contenders next year and I dont think they will. Im beginning to think they dont want to win until the renovation has been complete.

  • cubsin

    The new posting rules will probably result in a more reasonable posting fee, followed by an all-out bidding war involving the qualified teams. Only the player and his agent will win under this scenario.

    • SuzyS

      It’s going to be interesting to see what develops with the new posting rules. It’s a complicated scenario…that really should be abolished, (from a US perspective). It indentures the Japanese players for 9 years to the Japanese teams.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    This team has so much debt and other financial problems. I just don’t see them being a real player in this. I agree they’re saying it to help appease angry fans. People don’t seem to understand the economics involved. This team isn’t broke, they’re beyond broke! It will be another few years until they can spend like a big market team.

    • SuzyS

      You’re probably right, boardrider…However, the Cubs are going to have to make a splash somewhere this offseason in order to reversre the attendance problem…Depending on the $$$ involved…a Tanaka signing is the one move that fits right in with the Cubs rebuilding plan.
      The Cubs are receiving an extra $25 mil. this season…(along with a lot of other teams).
      They might actually view a Tanaka signing as a
      necessity to reverse falling attendance.

    • K_Gripp

      If Tom Ricketts and his family didnt have enough money to put a winning club on the field maybe they shouldnt have been allowed to buy the team. They arent going to dig out of the hole by putting poor quality on the field for a decade. Buts in the seats, people listening on the radio, watching on TV, and buying merchandise brings in revenue. Right now less people are doing all of those things because the team sucks.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Wow, it’s amazing how much people are willing to spend money that isn’t there’s. No owner could have come in and done everything at once without going broke. That’s the thing, they are being prudent so they will be healthy financially for the future. You and I may want to win now but the owners are doing the smart thing and tackling one thing at a time. If they came in and blew every cent they have in 2 years that would make fans happy but it would ruin their family. While owning the team they still have to be able to support themselves. The unrealistic expectations of the Rickett’s are crazy. Mark Cuban would have had to do the same thing. No matter how rich, no successful business person is going to mortgage themselves personally to satisfy a fan base. These guys are smart and passionate about the Cubs. They know what they are doing and are taking steps to better the team. It can’t be done overnight and the fact they’re not willing to blow their wad in two seasons shouldn’t open them up to critiscm like “if they couldn’t afford it, they shouldn’t have bought the team.” They can afford it. They’re being smart so they can be in this for the long haul. We have no right to demand they spend their money any other way than they are comfortable. They’re the millionaires.

        • K_Gripp

          As customers of the Chicago Cubs we have every right to demand they offer a good product at a reasonable price. Currently the Chicago Cubs are offering a poor product at a high price. That is why the Cubs had empty seats during August games. Your assertion that the Ricketts family knows what they are doing regarding running a Major League Baseball team is very generous. They have never run a MLB team successfully and thus far they have provided us with the worst 3 year span in Cubs history. You can continue to blindly support the owners, that is your choice. I am going to demand that they offer a good product for a reasonable price or I am not going to give them my money. I’ve already set up my plans to watch the Cubs at in Cincinnati and Milwaukee next year. My Wrigley boycott will continue until the product on the field matches the price of admission.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            They are investing in the ballpark, including all the legal battles for them to get a fair deal. In Latin facilities as well as paying off massive debt. They are also investing heavily in young players to build up the farm system, including going over budget in international signings. You don’t have to like it but this is how they see the greatest chance of providing sustained success to the franchise. No, Ricketts hasn’t owned a team before but they are uber-successful business people and they’ve hired uber-successful baseball people in Team Theo.

            You are welcome to support or not support in any way you see fit. They have a plan, and are spending a lot of money facilitating it.

          • K_Gripp

            If you walked into Target and they told you that they weren’t going to be offering great customer service, quality products, and great prices for 5 years because they needed to invest in infrastructure and they were battling with some different cities in court over their new store designs would you say “Thats cool. Target is a really great company run by really smart people. Im going to pay high prices for a poor product for the next 5 years in order to be supportive?” Of course you wouldn’t and you shouldn’t accept a poor product from the Cubs. This is a business and you have to hold the business owners accountable for their product and the product is terrible.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Apples and oranges man…

          • K_Gripp

            The other thing is that Theo and Jed have been very clear that the expectation is to be competitive. There are no excuses in business and we are making far too many excuses for them. They are supposedly the best. They are being paid like they are the best. Its not unreasonable to expect results that are better than ta franchise record for losses.

            Its only apples and orange because of the notion of being a “die hard fan” win or lose. One of the top ten reasons that the Cubs have done so poorly in the past 30 years is that no matter what the product is on the field people still show up to watch the Cubs. There is no economic incentive for ownership to be the best.

      • Jeffrey Rogers

        I would be friggen ticked off if the Cubs were going out and getting long term expensive contracts right now. It serves no purpose and does not get them any closer to a title.

        • K_Gripp

          Go back through my comments and point out where I suggested the Cubs should sign players to long term expensive contracts. I simply said they need to put a competitive product on the field. How they do that is what they are being paid millions of dollars to do and I dont care to hear excuses for why it isnt being done.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I’m not sure if this helps, but I liken the Cubs predicament similarly to the Bears.

            Regardless of debts and infrastructure, both franchises are revered and their fans want them to win and do well.

            But in both cases, these franchises have not drafted well. They’ve had to fill holes outside of the organization and rely on a few key guys for success. In the Bears case, they’ve been competitive, but they’ve never been good enough to win the title since 85. Same goes for the Cubs, they’ve drafted terribly and their lack of winning and playoff games lately reflects this.

            Look at both team’s bitter rivals, the Cardinals and the Packers. Both teams have drafted well and rely very little on free agency to fill holes. They are consistently competitive and aren’t spending a lot to do it.

            That’s where I see the Cubs moving towards. Unfortunately we haven’t seen the results just yet, but they’re getting there. Patience.

  • J Daniel

    The Cubs will bid but it will not be close, on purpose, IMO. It is just for the attention. Won’t put any value in them bidding on any of these players until they start to land some of them.

    • SuzyS

      I actually think they will bid to win. A Tanaka acquisition actually fits the plan. Will we win…I don’t know…but I think the Cubs will legitimately try to win the bid.

      • J Daniel

        Hope you are right, I know you have been on this for awhile, but until I see them actually do something like this I will not believe it. I am a Theo guy, believe they are doing a good job building, but don’t see them spending the money.