Cubs Reportedly Prepared to Make Nine-Figure Investment in Masahiro Tanaka

The Masahiro Tanaka derby has picked up with less than two weeks to the deadline for him to sign a contract with a Major League team (Jan. 24, 4:00pm CST). And has been the case all off-season with Tanaka the reports from the mainstream media seemingly contradict themselves on an hourly basis.

Bob Nightengale caused just about every scribe and blogger to race to their keyboard and to their phone in order to check with their sources when he jumped the gun about the Dodgers’ interest in Tanaka. Nightengale reported “the Dodgers have let it be known they plan to go all-out in their efforts to sign Masahiro Tanaka” and they will not be outbid. Less than an hour later, Nightengale reported the Dodgers indeed have interest in Tanaka but he was told they do not plan to “spend wildly” on Tanaka with the Clayton Kershaw extension on the horizon. During an appearance on the MLB Network, Nightengale explained his report and added the Cubs and Yankees are the two teams that could challenge the Dodgers in the Tanaka sweepstakes.

While the news and rumors out of the Cubs’ camp in regards to Tanaka has been extremely quiet, the Cubs are involved in the process and are interested in signing Masahiro Tanaka.

According to a report from Patrick Mooney, “the Cubs are prepared to make a nine-figure investment in Tanaka” due to the fact he fits into the front office’s long-term plan. Mooney also reported the contract Tanaka ends up signing could “get silly and another desperate, free-spending team will blow them away with more years and dollars.”

Casey Close has asked teams to keep the process with Masahiro Tanaka as quiet as possible and not to divulge any information to the press.

The countless meetings were expected to end on Friday. And reports have suggested Masahiro Tanaka will begin cutting down the long list of teams in the coming days. John Shea reported Tanaka would prefer to pitch in one of three cities … Los Angeles, New York and Boston. With 13 days remaining in the process, it would be premature to make any team or any city the favorite to sign Masahiro Tanaka.

Once the dust settles, the Cubs are expected to be one of the six teams left negotiating with Masahiro Tanaka up to the deadline. The Yankees, Dodgers, Mariners and Angels are the other four teams and with the recent injury to Derek Holland that will likely keep him out until the All-Star break, the Rangers should have more interest in Tanaka than they did earlier in the week.

Dodgers

Bill Shaikin reported the Dodgers’ interest in Masahiro Tanaka has not changed since the Winter Meetings. Shaikin pointed out the Dodgers “weren’t all-in then, and won’t be now.”

According to a report from Ken Gurnick, the Dodgers are not expected to make a huge push for Tanaka and they are not “nearly as engaged” in Tanaka as they were in Hyun-Jin Ryu. Gurnick’s sources shot down the report from Bob Nightengale. And one of the reasons is that it unclear how Tanaka would “slot into an already loaded rotation.” Gurnick added “the club has been restrained in its approach with Tanaka.”

Rangers

After Texas inked Shin-Soo Choo, reports quickly surfaced the Rangers were no longer in the mix for Masahiro Tanaka. The Rangers’ rotation was thought to be set, plus Texas has depth in their system. Jon Daniels was on record stating they would not be signing a top of the rotation starter this winter. Even with Daniels’ comments, most felt the Rangers were still players for Tanaka.

New surfaced Friday afternoon Derek Holland underwent knee surgery and he would miss half of the season recovering from the injury he reportedly suffered at his house. Holland fell and damaged his knee cap.

With Holland out and the Rangers expected to play well into October, the questions immediately turned to Tanaka and if the Rangers would step up their pursuit.

Jon Daniels said he will add pitching to the roster but not a front line starter thru free agency.

Yankees

The Yankees have long been considered the favorite to sign Masahiro Tanaka. After all, they are the Yankees; they have the money and are in desperate need of pitching while adding younger players to an aging roster.

New York designated Vernon Wells for assignment Friday to make room on their 40-man roster for Matt Thornton. The Yankees still have to clear a spot for Brian Roberts, and then there is that little decision about Alex Rodriguez that is expected any day now.

The Yankees have been working to get their payroll under $189 million for the 2014 season in order to save money moving forward with the luxury tax. Joel Sherman is tracking the Yankees’ payroll number for next season and as of Friday afternoon, the Yankees’ luxury-tax tab is $175.822 million … and that number includes Rodriguez’s $27.5 million for next season.

Reports out of New York earlier in the week indicated the Yankees are expected to spare no expense to sign Tanaka and “there is no sense out of Yankees’ camp the team is going to draw any financial line” with Tanaka.

Blue Jays

John Gibbons told Shi Davidi that he knows Alex Anthropolous “is feeling around” to see what is going on with Masahiro Tanaka. The Jays’ skipper admitted most teams are probably doing the same.

Toronto has been trying to add a top of the rotation starter all off-season. Anthropolous checked in with the Cubs several times on what it would take to acquire Jeff Samardzija. But Anthropolous is not willing to part with Aaron Sanchez and/or Marcus Stroman and has decided to go the free agent route to add a pitcher. Toronto is a likely destination for Matt Garza if the Jays cannot sign Tanaka and both Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana remain possibilities for the Jays as well.

Davidi reported it is unclear how aggressive the Jays will be in their pursuit of Tanaka.

White Sox

The White Sox are in “hot pursuit” of Tanaka according to the Sun-Times. The Sox’s front office views Tanaka the same way as the Cubs. Tanaka would fit the Southsiders long-term view and would give them a very good rotation moving forward.

Kenny Williams reportedly made the trip to Los Angeles to be part of the meeting with Tanaka that included GM Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura. The Sox have the money to sign Tanaka as the report indicates and should not be discounted in the process.

Other Tanaka News

While the Angels and Mariners are reportedly very interested in signing Masahiro Tanaka, the beat writers for both teams were relatively quiet on Friday, which means very little. And with Boston being mentioned as one of Tanaka’s preferred cities one would figure the Red Sox’s reporters would be all over the story if it had legs. But they seemed more focused on Saturday night’s Hot Stove Cool Music Concert.

The deadline to sign Masahiro Tanaka is Friday, Jan, 24 at 4:00pm CST … and most feel it will go down to the wire.

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  • jtrain23

    I am still very skeptical about the actual possibility of Tanaka wearing a Cubs uniform next year. Although, I hope if the Cubs do go all in that they get this one right. We can’t afford to cut corners, trade contracts, and build our system just to have the next big contract be bad and put us back in the same spot.

    I am preparing for the possibility that the Cubs DO go all in, offer the biggest number, suit him more than any other team, and lose him to a contender.

    With that in mind, I pose this question. Would it be worse for the Cubs to go all in and lose out to another team…yet again or to sign him and have him not live up to expectations?

    • SirGladiator

      Naturally it would be worse to pay 150 million and have him suck than to pay nothing and have him play for another team, that’s the easy question. The hard question is, how could Theo and company maintain any respect in the baseball world if they’re outbid by yet another team who then gets an awesome Superstar? We’ve already lost Darvish and Cespedes, two Superstars that nobody could’ve stopped us from signing, we simply stopped ourselves by not spending the money. Theo has nobody to blame but himself for the Cubs not having those awesome Superstars right now, he simply gave them away to other teams by his unwillingness to spend the money. If he does it again here, it will be a complete embarrassment, as this will have been the third time a top Superstar could’ve been a Cub, but wasn’t because of unwillingness to spend money. We were reminded earlier this week that the Cubs have a long history of such cheapness, going back to the days of Maddux. The best pitcher in the game, and we literally gave him away to the Braves because we weren’t willing to pay him a few million dollars a year. Maddux, Darvish, Cespedes, hopefully we won’t add Tanaka to that list, it’s quite the impressive list, a long history of cheapness that needs to come to an end. You don’t win without spending some money on the quality players, and now’s the time. Hopefully we are finally going to do what it takes to get the top Superstar out there, bring him in, and start winning some Championships!

      • Tony_Hall

        WHAT??? Theo gave away Darvish and Cespedes? Darvish was a blind bid. There is a reason that system is gone, as it makes zero sense and ended up with teams having to make guesses on how high to bid and one team out bid everyone by so much that it finally broke the system and exposed it as favoring the NPB teams more than MLB and the Japanese player.

        Cespedes is not a superstar with a line of 240/294/442. Yes I would take him and would like to have signed him as well, but he is not a superstar.

        If Tanaka signs with the Cubs great, but it he doesn’t it is not a complete embarrassment. There are 29 teams that will be embarrassed then, as all 29 would love to have him and will lose out and at least 15 will be extremely embarrassed as they will have negotiated with him and lost out by not offering the largest contract. Only one team will sign him, the others will have gone all out to sign him and lost. But there is no way this is embarrassing because of the mistake on Maddux to keep him by a completely different ownership group and front office, or not winning a blind bid for Darvish or not signing the superstar Cespedes (who there is no report they targeted).

        • Eugene Debs
          • Tony_Hall

            Yes they were reported to be in on it, but name one guy like Cespedes that they aren’t reported to be in on. It was reported all along that the Cubs were more in on Soler being the younger player.

          • Eugene Debs

            There are literally thousands of articles referencing the Cubs interest. I’m not sure the difference between “in on” and interested, but I remember we were all excited by the possibility.

            I hope Soler ends up being the better player, but so far he can’t stay healthy and acts like a jerk. Fingers crossed on this one but he’d be the first of any of the “top” prospects I’d trade (if we ever get into that again).

          • Tony_Hall

            Well Cespedes has the injury issue as well and Puig has far more issues with his actions.

            Coming from Cuba via whatever country they needed to get become eligible is not the easiest thing to do and getting use to a full season of MLB will take it’s toll on these guys. To me getting Soler so young and giving him a few years in the minors will help him get adjusted both physically and mentally to what it takes to play MLB.

            Yes we were excited about Cespedes and many others that I don’t believe we ever targeted. There are 1000′s of articles about the Cubs going after Fielder that same off-season, yet we never did.

          • Dorasaga

            Those media reports were overblown. I think Puig’s “characters” would be redeemed “fine” if he stayed with his homies.

            Cuban players are fun to watch. I’ve watched hundreds of tournament games that featured the best of Cuba for this century. Pedro Lazo (RHP) and Ariel Pestano (catcher) are two of them, whom I met in person.

            Great people, nice to fans. Loved how they played with bats and balls as if those are artworks for display. They just retired two years ago–in fact, Lazo announced retirement TWICE–I never figured out how that worked in Cuba.

            There’s something about not being professional players that shaped Cuban characters. I sense that baseball to them is not just an honor, as much as it’s a big boy’s game to them.

        • GaryLeeT

          OK Tony if you insist, I’ll drag out this dead horse for one final round. Theo of all people knew how much it take to land Darvish. In fact, the bid amount ended up being almost the same as Matsuzaka’s. The Cubs went after Darvish with a comparatively meager posting bid hoping to get lucky, but there was no serious effort on their part. It was basically an alligator armed attempt, for show.

          • Tony_Hall

            By your statement, this means the following:

            Theo is extremely smart, knowing the winning bid before it is announced.

            All the other teams GM’s also must have known the winning bid and all must have not wanted Yu, but wanted to show like they did.

            The Rangers are the dumbest team in all of baseball as they outbid everyone by a reported $20-$30M. How come they didn’t get the notice that even though everyone knew it would take a $50+M bid, they were the only one to go over the $20-$25M range.

            I don’t know how you can post a comparatively meager bid, with no serious effort, yet finish 2nd in the bidding process.

            OK – I wanted Yu, but many on here did not. Yet he has been a success and looks like a very good deal for the Rangers (until his arm falls off in Year 3). The old system was terrible and paid the NPB teams way too much money (you don’t think the Rangers know that they overbid by well over $20M). It wasn’t a fair system at all to either MLB teams or the NPB player, but to say someone was able to orchestrate a bid to come in 2nd so that it looks like they attempted to win, but knew they wouldn’t is crazy. If it is not crazy, then you are secretly worshiping, if you think he is THAT smart.

    • Dorasaga

      My opinion has been that pre-2014 is not the year to spend on one mega-million contract. Timing is everything. The Cubs still need this season to evaluate their farm talents. Those in Tennessee will soon show who’s ready and be fast-tracked, while the others need more time down the farm, maybe one full season at Iowa.

      That’s more so for the position player as so with the rotation depth. Every club lacks depth on starting pitchers. One injury on the team’s 200-inning guy, boom! GM Hoyer will be all over the place signing old veterans to fill the five-man so they can last 162 games.

      I’ve also pointed out that the 2015 free agency for pitchers will be the most abundant in recent years. Established and not-old veterans such as J. Shields, Masterson, Gallardo, Anderson, Morrow, Iwakuma, Chen, and Cueto are just some of the many who are either good trade targets or daring souls to test the market.

      The Cubs may ink one of them before finally decide whether 2015 is the year or not.

      • GaryLeeT

        Good young pitchers coming from MLB teams, don’t make it to market, they get extended. If the Cubs position players come together in 2 years, you can’t just say, “ready, set, go get ace” Now you are wasting their productive years while looking for a #1 & #2 starter. You have seize the moments when they occur. Especially when a guy is only 25, and all it costs is money.

        • Tony_Hall

          Kershaw could be the one that tests that theory. He has already made a ton of money, and if we think Tanaka is going to get paid, just imagine if Kershaw makes it to FA and teams can pay him starting his age 27 season.

          • GaryLeeT

            And, although not as young,
            Max Scherzer too.

          • Tony_Hall

            Can you imagine if both of them go to FA? That would be a very interesting hot stove.

          • Dorasaga

            You know what, the Cubs may sign Tanaka, Kershaw, AND ALSO Scherzer. That’ll be one hell of a rotation–at least on paper.

            This is my old record, because I said before to new managers of my fantasy league: It’s not whom you drafted, but whom you kept that matters.

          • JasonPen

            The Dodgers will extend him. And he’d be stupid to walk away from a potential 300 million dollar deal. Remember, and extension usually comes with a year or more left on the contract. Pitchers will take it for the simple fact that injuries occur.

          • Tony_Hall

            I know that, that is why I said that Kershaw “could” be the one that tests that theory.

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    Tanaka has returned to Japan.

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  • CubbyDenCritic

    MADNESS…………COMPLETE MADNESS to spend this much on one guy who has no MLB experience.

    • GaryLeeT

      Like Darvish?

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Did Darvish win anything yet with the Rangers?

        • GaryLeeT

          An All-Star invite, 2nd place in Cy Young voting, and 4 more games that any other Cub.

          • Eugene Debs

            No doubt, Darvish is huge.

  • Eugene Debs

    To0 bad they included the two figures after the decimal point.

    “We really tried to leverage our inventory and assets and continue to monitor the unique economic challenges to be competitive consistently in the future. That is why we made a nine figure offer of $1,000,000.11. We really tried, seriously.”

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  • Victor Manino

    All teams are prepared to offer 9 figures

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