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.

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Quote of the Day

"The riches of the game are in the thrills, not in the money." – Ernie Banks

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  • Tony_Hall

    Newest report says Tanaka is staying in Japan.

    Maybe it was smart to have not settled for offers for Samardzija before this was settled.


    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Tony, people are jumping the gun. Latest from Ken Rosenthal – GM: “Bizarre news on Rakuten. Not sure I buy it.” Reference is to Rakuten’s reported decision not to post Tanaka. No official word yet.

      • Tony_Hall

        That is part of it though, all they have to do to not post him is do nothing. To post him they have to do something.

        What is the latest they can post a player under this years agreement?

        • Cubbiemacg

          I believe February 1st

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          We will have an official word when Rakuten decides to post him or not. This is too big a deal in Japan for the news to not be reported.

          The NY Times report is inaccurate from what I can tell.

          • Tony_Hall

            They could wait until the end to announce they won’t post him. Even if the do say the won’t post him sooner, they can always change their mind if Tanaka offers them a cut of his contract. Let’s face it, it is all about how much money Rakuten can get out of this deal.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            I agree on the money side. Rakuten is ‘not happy’. A report I read early this morning from Japan pointed out the team will lose $61 million if they allow him to leave … sounds very close to the posting fee they were expecting to me.

          • Tony_Hall

            Not sure he they get to that high of a number, but that would be incentive to keep him. They are probably under pressure from fellow owners to not stretch what they pay him by too much as well or it will have a ripple affect on salaries across their league.

          • paulcatanese

            Gee, where have we seen that one before? Not public, but I am sure owners felt the same way here. Money, money, money,
            Cabaret all over again ( the musical).

          • Rational Logic

            How is the team expected to lose $61M? Is that due to ticket sales?

          • 07GreyDigger

            That’s what I figured. The clubs will have to get a percentage of the players salary to make posting players even worth it to the NPB teams.

    • cubtex

      They are always 1 step ahead of everyone :) Seriously? Tanaka would only be going to one team(the Yankees in all probability) Who this would help would be Garza,Jiminez and Santana.

      • Tony_Hall

        No at all, just very thorough people, who don’t make rash decisions. There is no reason for them to just accept the best offer out there for Samardzija right now. Once Tanaka’s situation is settled, then they make another run and see if anyone is “more willing” to meet their demands.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Ben Badler of Baseball America – No decision yet from Rakuten on Masahiro Tanaka.

  • Cubbiemacg

    Am I wrong or did I read somewhere that if a Japanese team has a request from a player to leave for the MLB and the team says no then other Japanese teams can bid for his rights?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I have not seen that, please post a link if you find one I would like to read it.

      Tanaka is under contract for the next two seasons. He signed a three-year deal prior to last season from the way I understand it.

      • Cubbiemacg

        I read it somewhere,I’ll poke around and see ifi can find it again

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Thank you very much

    • Dorasaga

      Neil is correct that Tanaka has a long-term contract, honored by all Japanese teams. Never heard of what you mentioned, and I believe impossible. NPB (Japan’s big league) had imposed several rules regarding free agent and “reserve clause” ever since similar problems to what you brought up happened with Hideo Nomo and Junichi Tazawa.

      The posting system occurred since Nomo slew Japan’s FA system by retiring in 1994 AND THEN signed abroad. Tazawa signed with the Redsox before 2009 as an amateur while with the independent league, but before going through NPB.

      NPB reacted and forbade any team to sign or re-sign any player from Japan in so many years, who wanted to leave Japan but didn’t go through NPB.

  • John_CC

    This is beyond ridiculous. By the time Tanaka posts I think he should just receive the Cy Young on the same day.

    How ridiculous is this?

    The control of Greg Maddux, his fastball to Roger Clemens and his split finger toKoji Uehara while having the stamina of Grover Cleveland Alexander.

    If he had just 3 out of 4 he’s already in the Hall the Fame. Yet most project him as probably a 1 OR #2! If these fantastical comparisons are even close he would be called an ACE, flat out, no questions.

    I’m so tired of this soap opera.

    • cubtex

      how do you really feel?

      • John_CC

        You don’t want to know! I would probably get banned if I ever really went off here.

        • cubtex

          Just don’t use that one word you used before….gallery…again :)))

          • John_CC

            I know I know, such a lowly nut it isn’t even a nut at all, poor tubers get no respect! :)

            Pistachios and Cashews…now those are classy nuts!

          • cubtex

            now macadamia !!! they are the Rolls Royce of nuts :)

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      He also plays chess as a hobby…apparently he is as good as Gary Kasparov. Probably better.

      A couple scouts saw him throw a football once…they say if he went to the NFL, he would be, like, 3 times as good as Peyton Manning.

      Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut saw him eat a couple hotdogs at a mall once…they are pretty sure he would set a new record if he ever entered the Nathan’s contest.

      And so on…

  • John_CC

    Put the Twitter down…step back slowly…

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Tanaka saga is becoming like a Jackie Chan senseless movie script………
    Just think of the on going media circus during the season that will surround this kid if he signs with a MLB team……is that something Theo really want to have with building a championship club?…….
    Guess who is up on the trade market?……..Ryan Dempster & Jake Peavy……..
    Does anyone remember who the Padres wanted from the Cubs for Jake Peavy before he was traded to the White Sox?……….it was Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol & Josh Vitters…….Jim Hendry turned down the trade….
    Johan Santana might be that Cubs starter that Theo is looking at…….
    Scott Downs returning to Chicago….with the White Sox.

  • Rational Logic

    I love those comparisons. I bet he’s pretty much Dice-K. End of story. I hope the Cubs pass. I’ll definitely get a great laugh at the team who pays him $120M and he is no better than a #3. Darvish aside, I don’t think there has been one pitcher from Japan that has met the hype.

    I’d rather see money spent on proven players. I’ll be totally fine if we pass and he ends up as the greatest pitcher of all time.

    • Rational Logic

      which he obviously will be.

    • bpot92

      I would say Kuroda and Saito were both good pickups…

      • Rational Logic

        They have definitely pitched well, but the hype wasn’t nearly what it was for Darvish, Dice-K, and Tanaka. And given Kuroda has been a middle of the order pitcher, I don’t think it negates my argument.

        • bpot92

          Hopefully Japan is just catching up with the talent and the scouting gets better so that less busts come over

          • Rational Logic

            I mean, if Wladimir Balentien can hit 60 HRs over there (per ESPN article) I think there is enough said.

          • bpot92

            Not every player will be good but there can be a couple good players, scouts just need to figure out which are true prospects and which are products of lesser competition.