Rakuten Golden Eagles Trying to Persuade Masahiro Tanaka to Stay in Japan

Masahiro Tanaka wants to pitch in the majors next season and would like for his team to post him this winter. But the Rakuten Golden Eagles do not want to see their star pitcher leave and are reportedly offering him a significant pay increase to stay in Japan.

A report from Japan on Wednesday night indicated Rakuten has offered to double Tanaka’s salary to $8 million to entice him to stay in Japan and forego his dreams to pitch in the states. Rakuten is not happy with the new posting system and are doing everything they can to keep Tanaka on their roster, even to the point of delaying their decision to post him.

A report surfaced on Wednesday morning that Rakuten’s decision on whether or not they will post Tanaka could take a while. The team is undecided and it will reportedly not be a simple decision for Rakuten to post him.

According to Patrick Newman, the $8 million salary that Rakuten is offering Tanaka would make him the highest paid player in the history of Nippon Professional Baseball. Yokohama DeNA BayStars paid Kazuhiro Sasaki $6.5 million when he returned to Japan from pitching in the majors and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks paid third baseman Tony Bautista $7 million.

A new contract might persuade Tanaka to stay in Japan for two more years but he figures to be paid a lot more than $8 million next season and beyond when he signs with a MLB team. Tanaka’s current contract calls for him to be paid $4 million per year over the next two seasons (signed through the 2015 season) according to Patrick Newman.

The general consensus is that Masahiro Tanaka will sign a contract worth more than $100 million and some feel it could take at least a six-year, $120 million deal for a Major League team to add him to their rotation.

ESPN ran a report by Steve Wulf and Jason Coskrey that asked why is there such a big fuss about Masahiro Tanaka and why teams are salivating over him. The report pointed out Tanaka’s control has been compared to Greg Maddux, his fastball to Roger Clemens and his split finger to Koji Uehara while having the stamina of Grover Cleveland Alexander. ‘Ma-Kun’, as Tanaka is called in Japan by the media and fans, projects as a one or two in a Major League rotation.

During an interview on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday night, Casey McGehee told Jeff Joyce and Mel Antonen that his former Rakuten teammate, Masahiro Tanaka reminds him more of Hiroki Kuroda than Yu Darvish. McGehee added that Tanaka throws a forkball (split finger) that would be very unique in MLB and would take time to adjust to.

The Cubs are expected to make a legitimate run at signing Masahiro Tanaka, once he is posted. And so are the Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Mariners. But, according to Buster Olney, Tanaka might prefer to pitch on the West Coast. Tanaka has reportedly hired an agent but is keeping the decision private. Tanaka is a ‘Rock Star’ in Japan according to McGehee and so far is receiving press like one throughout baseball.

Masahiro Tanaka appears to be holding up the starting pitcher market, both free agents and trades, and it does not appear there will be an announcement on whether or not he will be posted in the very near future.

The Tanaka Watch continues and rolls into day four …

Jeff Samardzija

According to a report from Shi Davidi, Alex Anthropolous “remains engaged in trade talks” to add a top of the rotation starter to the Blue Jays’ pitching staff. But the asking price remains very high and the Jays’ GM is not willing to pay it right now.

Davidi reported the Cubs are looking for RHP Marcus Stroman, RHP Aaron Sanchez and “more” for Jeff Samardzija while the Rays’ demands for David Price are “even higher.”

The Blue Jays might be the only team still talking to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer about Samardzija. The Braves are out on Samardzija, and reportedly have been for over a week, and the Diamondbacks appear to be focused on Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza or Ervin Santana and not trading for Jeff Samardzija.

Toronto appears willing, for now, to begin the season with the options currently on their roster to fill out their rotation.

Kurt Suzuki

The Cubs were reportedly interested in signing free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki in November before the front office traded for George Kottaras. The Cubs avoided arbitration with Kottaras and signed him to a one-year, $1.075 million contract for next season. With Kottaras on the roster to backup Welington Castillo, the Cubs were thought to no longer be interested in Suzuki.

During the Winter Meetings, Susan Slusser reported the Cubs were still interested in Kurt Suzuki, but nothing advanced past the rumor.

Mark Feinsand reported Wednesday the Cubs still have interest in Kurt Suzuki and Ken Rosenthal confirmed the Cubs interest and added the Mariners and Twins as two other possibilities for Suzuki.

The former Athletics and Nationals backstop hit .232/.290/.337 in 94 games last season with 13 doubles, one triple and five home runs for a .627 OPS.

The Cubs’ 40-man roster currently stands at 40 players with the addition of Jose Veras. The Cubs have not announced the Veras signing yet so technically there is one spot open on the 40-man. Suzuki should be looking for a Major League contract and not a minor league deal with a non-roster invite to big league camp.

News and Notes

Brandon Hyde brings a unique perspective to the bench according to a report from ESPN Chicago.

According to Bernie Pleskoff, Albert Almora has flare without the flash.

Cubs Park will officially open its doors on January 25 … and pitchers and catchers report to the Cubs’ new Spring Training home on Feb. 13.

Jose Veras’ FIP from 2011-2013 (3.63) is very close to Grant Balfour’s FIP (3.44) over the same timeframe according to Baseball Prospectus. Veras signed a one-year contract for a guaranteed $4 million with a $5.5 million club option for 2015 and Balfour just inked a two-year, $15 million deal with Baltimore.

Former Cubs’ outfielder, Dave Sappelt has signed on with the Phillies and his minor league contract includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

According to a report from Jeff Passan, Shin-Soo Choo turned down a seven-year, $140 million contract from the Yankees that was offered to him after the Bronx Bombers signed Jacoby Ellsbury.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

[amazonjs asin=”B00AA0Y6DM” locale=”US” title=”Chicago Cubs Retro Jersey Replica T-Shirt By Red Jacket”]

[amazonjs asin=”B008ITTP7O” locale=”US” title=”MLB Red Jacket Chicago Cubs Brass Tacks Premium Vintage T-Shirt – Royal Blue”]

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney