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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