Cubs in the Middle of the Masahiro Tanaka Speculation

The deadline to sign Masahiro Tanaka is Friday at 4:00pm CST but reports have suggested the news could surface on Tuesday or Wednesday which team has landed the 25-year old right hander. David Kaplan and Jim Bowden reported Monday that Tanaka could agree to terms on a contract at some point over the next two days. That would give the winner of the Tanaka sweepstakes enough time to have him undergo a physical with team doctors and still have him signed, sealed and delivered by Friday’s deadline.

Bruce Levine reported the Cubs “will outbid the field on money and years.” And while that may be the case, David Kaplan is hearing the Cubs’ offer to Tanaka is nowhere near the seven-year, $160 million deal that reports have suggested. Buster Olney has heard one team is willing to pay Tanaka like a “Cy Young-caliber pitcher” and that could mean a $150-160 million contract. And rumors have suggested Tanaka could be looking for an opt-out clause to be included in his deal.

What makes Levine’s report interesting is the hint of a blind bid. Levine said “none of the clubs know the other teams’ bids.” The Cubs are believed to be in the middle of the process with Tanaka along with the Yankees and Dodgers. The Diamondbacks and White Sox are thought to be out of the running for Tanaka at this point.

Masahiro Tanaka fits in the Cubs’ plan and the front office is pushing to sign him. The Cubs will have to overpay in years and dollars to land him. Jon Paul Morosi does not think Tanaka will pick the Cubs. Morosi told David Kaplan that the Dodgers would be a perfect fit for Tanaka and the Yankees would be more appealing to him than the Cubs.

The Cubs’ pitch to Tanaka was based on what the team will be in the near future. Tanaka might not be willing to have a rough first year in the majors with a Cubs’ team that has zero expectations. But as Levine reported, Tanaka “wants to be the man and loves a challenge.” Reports have suggested Tanaka wants to be the staff ace on the team he signs with and commits to long term. And with that said, most consider the Cubs as a longshot to sign Tanaka.

Masahiro Tanaka is in Japan and completed his second bullpen session in three days on Monday. Tanaka tossed a 30-pitch bullpen session Saturday according to Dylan Hernandez with an American baseball. Tanaka told the Japanese media the ball felt normal. Tanaka threw another pen Monday with splitters, sliders and experimented with a rising cut fastball according to a Japanese report. Tanaka didn’t talk to the media after a 40-pitch bullpen session.

Casey Close has kept the entire process very quiet, as promised. There is more speculation than actual updates right now … and that should change in the next 48-72 hours.

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