The Daily Tanaka: Cubs Among the Teams Lining Up to Talk to Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka and his agent, Casey Close, reportedly spent Thursday talking to several teams and listening to their sales pitches. The White Sox are one of the teams that met with Tanaka and GM Rick Hahn addressed the Sox interest in Tanaka after their meeting on Thursday that included Kenny Williams and Robin Ventura. Hahn indicated the meeting was “exploratory in nature.” Hahn said, “It was an opportunity for us to sit down with Masahiro and discuss how he potentially fits our vision for the Chicago White Sox for the next several seasons.”

Ben Cherington told the Boston media he has been in touch with Casey Close about Tanaka but he would not tip his hand on whether or not they will meet with Tanaka.

Casey Close reportedly asked teams that are involved to not divulge anything during the process with Tanaka. But Ned Colletti provided a little clarity on where Tanaka is at this point. According to a report from Andrew Marchand, “They’re in a feeling-out process. They’re trying to learn about different cities, different teams, different market, how teams are constructed going forward.” Colletti confirmed he has spoken with Close about Tanaka and will continue those conversations. The Los Angeles’ media is trying to gauge the Dodgers interest in Tanaka and spoke with team president Stan Kasten. Kasten downplayed the Dodgers’ interest in Tanaka because he likes the roster the Dodgers have in place.

The Cubs are expected to be one of the more aggressive teams in their pursuit of Tanaka. But Theo Epstein and the front office will not confirm or deny they have met with Tanaka or have a meeting scheduled to sell him on signing with the Cubs. ESPN Chicago reported a meeting between the Cubs and Tanaka “will be sometime before next weekend’s Cubs Convention” while the Tribune reported the Cubs will sit down with Tanaka this week in Los Angeles.

David Kaplan spoke with a scout Thursday that indicated as many as 15 teams will be part of the Tanaka derby which is close to the number reported on ESPN New York. “More than one-third of MLB teams are interested in Tanaka” and those teams are believed to be the Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, White Sox, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Phillies, A’s and Astros. The Blue Jays, Twins, Giants and Tigers have also been connected to Tanaka which runs the list to more than half of Major League Baseball.

The scout Kaplan talked to thinks the Tanaka sweepstakes will come down to six teams … the Blue Jays, Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, Angels and Cubs. And the team that signs Tanaka will end up paying “stupid money” that could reach the $175 million range. Most estimates put the contract Tanaka will end up signing in the six-year and $100-plus million not including the $20 million release fee.

Ken Rosenthal mentioned the possibility of Casey Close negotiating an opt out in Tanaka’s contract, the same way he did with Zack Greinke and is thought to be discussing in the negotiations with the Dodgers on the Clayton Kershaw extension. A similar opt out would not surprise Rosenthal and might give Tanaka a higher annual salary on a shorter term deal.

Masahiro Tanaka and Casey Close will reportedly spend Friday meeting with teams in the Los Angeles area after weather cancelled a trip to the Midwest. So the planned tour of Major League teams and cities appears to have been cancelled … at least for now.

Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal reported Masahiro Tanaka had a physical on either Wednesday or Thursday in Los Angeles. The exam took place at Kerlan-Jobe Clinic and Casey Close will reportedly use it to show teams that are interested in signing him.

Posting Fee

Ken Rosenthal provided additional details on how the posting system will be paid to Japanese teams earlier in the week. According to Rosenthal’s sources, the posting fee would be split in two payments over two years. So in regards to Tanaka and the $20 million release fee, the team that signs Tanaka would pay $13 million in the first year of the contract and the other $7 million would be paid the next year.

Kiley McDaniel provided more information on how the posting fee will be paid and it is a little different from what Rosenthal reported. According to McDaniel, the posting fee will be paid out in four payments over 18 months and the split payments only apply to release fees that exceed $10 million.

For Tanaka, the payment schedule would be as follows:

  • Payment One: 50% of the posting fee is due within 14 days of submission of the contract. For Tanaka, that would be $10 million due by February 7, 2014.
  • Payment Two: 17% of the posting fee is due within six months of submission of the contract. For Tanaka, that would be $3.4 million due by July 24, 2014
  • Payment Three: 17% of the posting fee is due within 12 months of submission of the contract. For Tanaka, that would be $3.4 million due by January 24, 2015.
  • Payment Four: 16% of the posting fee is due within 18 month of submission of the contract. For Tanaka, that would be $3.2 million due by July 24, 2015.

Splitting the posting fee into payments is to help the small market teams be able to sign the top talent available in Japan. But only the teams with deep pockets will be able to sign the player.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    This White Sox talk is a little disconcerting. Suddenly this “small market” team, which has made several bold rebuilding moves already in this offseason, is a player for Tanaka. It would be just like them to sign him. And if they did, it would be a real coup.

    Whether they can pull it off or not, one has to admit this: This Hahn is a real bold guy. He doesn’t sit on his hands a whole lot.

    • TheWrongGuy

      Personally I don’t mind if the White Sox sign him or any team. Other than the Yank’s or the Dodgers, I don’t mind who signs Tanaka.
      I hate the Yank’s!
      Dodgers have too much of a strong team already!

      • mutantbeast

        Hopefully, the LAD doesnt sign him. They do have to pay Kershaw big $ or lose him after 2014, so I really doubt theyd pay Tanaka more than the Cubs, since theyd likely PO proven players like Grienke or Ryu in the process. One thought process might be, if the Dodgers do sign Tanaka, might they trade a pitcher like Ryu or Billingsley?

        • cubtex

          Just remember Casey Close also represents Kersaw and Greinke. That is a pretty big deal.

    • Tony_Hall

      Why would any team not kick the tires on Tanaka? Doesn’t really seem bold at all, but a GM doing his job.

      • Ripsnorter1

        IF Hahn signs him, he rebuilt the team in one off season.

        Impressive, don’t you think?

        • Tony_Hall

          He has done a great job, since all of his younger players will all become All-Stars.

        • cubtex

          He has done a very impressive job.Traded away Peavy,Reed and Santiago and got Avisail Garcia,Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson. If Abreu turns out to be legit..that is one hell of a job.

          • RynoTiger

            Adam Eaton will have to prove he can stay healthy and put up more than pedestrian numbers at the MLB level. Till then that prospect is just a suspect. Maybe AZ knew what they were doing when they traded away a guy who was once one of their untouchables. We’ll have to wait and see if he can come close putting up anything similar to his minor league numbers. Same is true for Matt Davidson. Nice minor league numbers, but he has to prove it at the big show. Same with Garcia. Has some good minor league status in some categories, lots of average numbers in others. And Abreu, again another if. Gosh that’s a lot of “If’s” that need to happen to prove it was a good offseason for Hahn. Won’t know till they all actually play.

          • Ripsnorter1

            It is a lot of “ifs.”

  • Ripsnorter1

    I do agree with Kaplan: it will take $175 million for the Cubs to sign this guy.

  • SuzyS

    I’m not sure the Cubs should spend “stupid money” @ $175 million to sign this guy. There is a point where the financial risks outweigh the rewards,
    Hahn looks like he’ll be a good gm for the WS. They don’t have the luxury of a true tear down and rebuilding plan…if they tried the Cubs method they might actually go out of business.

    • raymondrobertkoenig

      Agreed. Here’s hoping the Cubs don’t offer more than 20 million per season for Tanaka.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I’m not sure about that. They have a hard time getting people to come when they’re contending what difference would it make if they truly rebuilt?

      • Bredstik

        I’m picturing the Cleveland Indians in Major League.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    $175 million plus…………Daddy Ricketts will tell Tommy Boy his allowance will be cut if his employee Theo does anything “stupid”.

  • Gramps

    I would say that most of the people that post in this site are very savvy about baseball. I would like to ask this question: If you were Tanaka, and you knew everything you had to know about current major league baseball, who would you sign with? Would it be for the money, for a winning system, for location, for a chance to put a team over the top or whatever?

    I figure wherever he goes he will get enough money to set up him and his family and heirs for life. Is money that important? Or, sign with a team that is top heavy in talent? Or, sign with a team that needs that one extra player to maybe push them over the top? The only thing I know about myself is that the money would not be a deciding factor, because I am going to get enough no matter which team I sign with.

    This is where I think the Cubs have an advantage — he would be a hero here if he led the Cubs to a World Series and won it. I guess it all comes down to the makeup of the individual. Just exactly what does he want? So, my answer to the question is Chicago Cubs.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Heroes…….you only find those in battlefields and coming out of burning buildings with victims……
      If I was Tanaka, I am going with Los Angeles Dodgers…….Great pitching, great hitters, Hollywood, The Women, Santa Monica, Pacific Coast Highway, Palm Trees, Warm Weather, The Women, Vince Scully, Playboy Mansion, the Women, the Kardashians, Jennifer Aniston, Palm Springs, the Women….
      Chicago just has Snow for six months…..and road construction for the other six months.

      • calicub

        I’d think the kardashian sisters were reason enough not to move to LA.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          I will take the Kardashian Sisters over Chicago Deep Dish Pizza……..both have wide bottoms, and are top heavy, but the Pizza only last for one night…….having a Kardashian can last anywhere between 8 weeks until two two years.

    • DWalker

      I don’t know if I would call myself baseball savvy per se, especially comapred to some of the guys on here (even if I don’t agree with their opinions), but I’ll at least throw my two cents in.
      Cubs-yes: pitching staff has potential good pieces, but needs an ace. Cubs will roll out the red carpet and theo will offer a lot of personalized perks plus a big paycheck. A very well regarded set of kids in the farm system could make the cubs very interesting 2015 going forward, which gives a year to get his feet under him. Ace of the cubs team that wins a world series? yeah, has a nice ring.
      Yankees- no: might offer the most moeny, but its a team that is staggering around like a drunken sailor. They can hit hard when they stumble into it, but they have a disjointed plan going forward, an overaging team, a micromanaging owner and they can’t make up thier mind if they are going to blow past the payroll cap, or trying to stay under it. either way its a team thats going to be in flux for years to come with no clear cut plan or farm system to build off of on a team with a lot of legacies to be compared and found wanting to.

      Dodgers-?: this is my hard one, if i had to say, i’d say no. He wants to be the ACE. With the Dodgers, he would be on a loaded team and won’t stand out. The Dodgers want to throw money around, but theres almost as many reasons to not go there.
      Rangers-no: if it weren’t for darvish, it would be an easy yes, but he won’t want to be in his shadow again.
      Mariners-yes: if they are even in the ball park money wise, this will be one of his top places to go. they will love him there, he will be a standout on their staff, and there is a huge Japanese following there.
      Angels-yes: another tough one, but I think yes. even though they have not had a lot of luck with big contracts, they have a lot of talent, a location he seems to like and possibly the money to make it work.
      I don’t see the A’s, Astros, White Sox, Phillies making a serious play on him.
      Red Sox-yes: even though they are the champions, he could still distinguish himself on the pitching staff there. And Boston loves hero’s. They do have some issues, but champions also have a draw all their own.
      Blue Jays-?: i don’t know. I don’t know if they will be players, but if they are they could be an interesting choice on an interesting team.
      Diamondbacks-no: I don’t know that he would fit in either sides plans and I don’t think they will offer top money like the yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox and Cubs will, and they don’t have anything he would really want more I think that other teams aren’t already going to offer.
      I give Cubs, Red Sox and Mariners the best chance, followed bt the Angels not far behind. Which means he will be a Yankee

    • 07GreyDigger

      I’m glad you think I’m savvy about baseball. I think so too. Anyway…

      I think he wants a combination of all those things. He’s a star in Japan and probably wants to play in MLB, because he wants to see how he does on the world stage and see if he can do the same here. If the reports are true that he wants to be the ace of the staff, that says to me he has a pretty big ego too.

      That being said, I think the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Angels and Blue Jays fit the bill.

      But if you bring in the chance to win into the equation that makes the Diamondbacks and Angels the winners right now. The Diamondbacks have some good young players and I think that gives them the edge. That’s my THREE cents.

  • Rick Barkan

    I’ll bet he ends up in Seattle cause he has a friend there or the Yankoffs.

    • mutantbeast

      I dont know. Tanaka was #2 to Iwakuma when they played together in Japan, and Hed be no better than a #3 in Seattle, behind King Felix and the aforementioned Iwakuma, not to mention they up-and -coming Tajuan Walker. Seattle does have a limited payroll.

  • Rick Barkan

    Also it doesn’t make sense to me to pay a team for a player. JMO.

  • cc002600

    If you look at the current 2014 payrolls of all the teams right now plus an estimate of what they will have to shell for arbritration guys, I just don’t see how teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Blue Jays, Rangers, Giants, Phillies, Tigers can add this guy to their already bloated payrolls. And don’t forget, Yanks & Dodgers will have to pay luxury tax on top to boot. That is not small chump change.

    But I will say this…Red Sox could be sleeper. Their 2014 payroll is fairly high, but they have tons of expiring contracts, so they could easily afford him moving forward. And why isn’t a team like the Mets going hard for him ? Their payroll is next to nothing right now. Surprising.

    To me, I say he ends up with either Mariners, Cubs, D-Backs, Red Sox, A’s or Astros.

    Just my $.02

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  • Baron_S
  • CubbyDenCritic

    From MLB Trade Rumors……

    Tanaka is down to New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/01/dodgers-plan-to-go-all-out-to-sign-tanaka.html

    • BosephHeyden

      These Tanaka rumors are almost as stupid as the Lebron rumors a few years back. Everyone said up front that the Heat were the most likely to get him. But, no, here’s one of Lebron’s “inner circle” telling Cleveland he’s staying home. And, oh, here’s one of his top guys telling the Knicks to get ready, because he’s coming and bringing titles with him. And here’s one of Lebron’s best friends telling the Chicago media “he’s coming and talking Dwayne Wade into coming with him.”

      All the while, the stories that weren’t popping up on the main pages of every sports site were how Lebron seemed to be exclusively shopping for real estate in Miami, and was buying a house in Miami, and was setting up a catered pool party in MIami for the day that wound up being “The Announcement.”

      Bottom line: I trust “inner circles” of athletes very little, because they are not the athletes, and reliable inner circles aren’t about to be sharing supposedly private information, let alone with a beat writer for San Francisco and Bob f’n Nightengale, possibly the most unreliable reporter in any sport.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Guess what?…..local media starting those LeBron rumors again…..thinking LBJ will leave Miami this summer for Chicago…………….I really don’t know who are the biggest “chumps”, the local sports media guys who believe in their mind that Tanaka & LBJ will come to Chicago …..always writing articles and talking their heads off on sports radio…….or the fans who believe all these garbage rumors.

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