The Daily Tanaka: Cubs Reportedly One of the Stops on the MLB Tour

Masahiro Tanaka is labeled as a ‘rock star’ in Japan and Ma-kun is going on a tour of Major League Baseball teams. Tanaka will reportedly meet with the Cubs this week as part of his stop in Chicago that is likely to include a visit on the South Side with the White Sox.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, “the Cubs declined to comment on the report” from Luke Stuckmeyer that they are meeting with Masahiro Tanaka this week, likely in Chicago.

The Cubs are expected to be “all in” on Tanaka even to the point David Kaplan reported prior to the New Year that the Cubs would not be outbid for his services. The list of teams thought to be “all in” on Tanaka is a mile-long, and it could increase if Ken Rosenthal’s sources are correct about the way the release fee will be paid.

As part of the new posting system Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball agreed to in December, the NPB club that makes one of their players available to sign with a Major League team cannot exceed a $20 million release fee. So any MLB team, under the new system, willing to pay the max release fee can negotiate with the player but would only be responsible to pay the Japanese team the posting fee if they signed the player.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the $20 million posting fee will be split into two payments of $13 million and $7 million. Rosenthal explained the team that signs Tanaka will have to pay Rakuten $13 million during the first year of his contract and $7 million in the second year. Rosenthal added the “idea behind the split payment is to allow more teams the realistic opportunity to bid for Tanaka, or any other Japanese player who is posted.”

The new wrinkle in the posting system would seem to open the door to any team willing to sign Tanaka to the $100-plus million contract he should sign in the next 16 days.

The Yankees, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Angels and Mariners are thought to be the Cubs biggest competition for Masahiro Tanaka. But don’t count out the Tigers, Red Sox and now the White Sox. Dave Dombrowski told Jon Paul Morosi that the Tigers’ roster is “pretty well set” but the Tigers’ GM would “not rule out further upgrades.”

The New York media is pressing Hal Steinbrenner to put his money where his mouth is and sign Masahiro Tanaka … no matter the cost and what the signing would mean to the Yankees financial picture moving forward. Even with all of the money the Yankees have spent this winter ($283 million) with the signings of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees are not seen as a championship caliber team. According to a report from Ian O’Connor, the Yankees “will be heavily involved with Tanaka, very aggressive and at the top of the market, but won’t get reckless and stupid.” O’Connor explained the Yankees are willing to go over $100 million to sign Tanaka, “but will overpay him only so much.”

Meanwhile in Anaheim, the Angels would like to sign Masahiro Tanaka but they are up against the $189 million luxury tax as well and have a lot of money promised to Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, plus what figures to be a record-breaking extension to Mike Trout. Alden Gonzalez broke down why the Angels should and should not sign Tanaka. Jerry Dipoto, the Halos’ GM, likes Tanaka and would like to sign him to fill a void in their rotation.

The Diamondbacks are preparing for “a serious run” at Masahiro Tanaka according to Steve Gilbert. Kevin Towers wants to add a top of the rotation starter and has interest in Matt Garza if he cannot sign Tanaka. Gilbert reported the D-Backs have informed Casey Close “they should be considered serious players for him.”

The Cubs will make their pitch to Masahiro Tanaka according to Patrick Mooney and will have to sell him on pitching for the Cubs. Mooney reported his sources indicated “Tanaka’s camp hopes to keep the process confidential.” But at this point, that is highly unlikely as the Tanaka derby will continue to make headlines until he signs a contract.

Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish

Ben Badler posted an excellent report comparing Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish and asked the question, who is better Tanaka or Darvish?

Badler explained, in his must read report, what the pitchers “have in common is they both spent their entire careers in Nippon Professional Baseball, where they were the best pitchers in Japan before leaving for Major League Baseball at age 25.”

Darvish projected as a number one when he left Japan and has lived up to expectations so far. Tanaka projects as a top of the rotation starter that “should be one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues this season.” Badler took the time to compare Tanaka with where Darvish was when he left Japan and pointed out which pitcher has the advantage in each category.

As for overall performance, Badler thinks Tanaka and Darvish are pretty even. Darvish has the better fastball, curveball and slider of the two while Tanaka’s splitter has been graded as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale and one NL scout that Badler spoke to called it “a devastating pitch, like John Smoltz.” Tanaka has better command and control than Darvish. Badler gave the advantage to Darvish in the delivery/physical category. Badler added both pitchers are “good athletes who are able to repeat their deliveries with good balance and coordination.” Where Darvish is 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Tanaka is 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and is “built more along the lines of Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse.”

Other News, Notes and Rumors

Ken Rosenthal reported Ubaldo Jimenez’s agents are telling clubs “he still expects to sign a multi-year deal at $14 million-plus annually.”

Jim Bowden made ten bold predictions for the remainder of the off-season on Tuesday. Bowden thinks the Yankees and Angels will go over the luxury tax threshold. Jeff Samardzija and David Price will not be traded, but will be dealt in July. And Masahiro Tanaka will sign with the Yankees for six years and $120 million.

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  • Dorasaga

    I don’t think it’s wise for the Cubs to sign Tanaka this year. Well, if they must, then I’ll like to know how this might fare as opposed to the whole league, for better or worse.

    Here’s my second take on this Tanaka And Mystery Bidder non-sense, before we can actually see Wada pitches in Spring Training:

    Sabermetric analysts had figured out, with the inflation since the late 80s compared to what the league actually paid on free agents recently, a contribution to a seasonal win* is now more than $3 Million (*above replacement).

    Hence, with posting fee included, the Cubs would find a fair buy at $120M for 6 years. I don’t think paying any pitcher 5 year-plus at ten million per year is wise, but we are talking market rate here.

    We can project Tanaka’s theoretical contribution with any number we want. I’ll take him as a 4-win (*a.r.) pitcher, per season, for four years. A sabermetric four win pitcher is an “old-school” 75 win-aceace who stayed around 3.50 ERA in five years.

    He’ll have his down and his up years, and I’ll take in injury risk. Let’s say he accumulated enough disabled days to a season-length, and another season that saw him exposed to more whatever (inability to command, divorce, rehab, and who knows).

    Then overall, in six years, Tanaka could be as valuable to any team as between U-bo Jimenez and Wainwright of year 2009-’13, roughly 19-21 wins, respectively. FYI: the Cards signed Wainwright an extension that kicks off now, at 19.5 million dollars per for five years. That’s for an established ace.

    Again, it’s based on my personal observation of such case. A little more than two years ago, the Rangers signed Darvish the Persian at $56M for 6 years, plus $52M post. Theo Epstein signed Matsuzaka at $52M + $51, back in 2006. The longer the contract for an unproven international free agent, the less per year a club needs to give.

    Just for fun, here’s my guess of the dollar value per year for a Japanese ace who was forced a ton of mileage on his arm since his second year of high school, and now pitching for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Parenthesized numbers are what a contract would pay Tanaka by market rate:

    $16M ($10),
    $25M ($11),
    $ 2M ($15),
    $12M ($17),
    $15M ($18),
    $ 4M ($18).

    Plus a $20M posting fee, that’s a grand total of $109 Million paid 6 years, for wins that should cost $74 M. The hope lies on his second year (2015), when the Cubs should really contend. A World Series might be revisited in 2018, when Tanaka should have a nice bound-back.

    Again, actual events vary to no end, and I’m trying to point out that even a consistent ace has down years, especially later in his career.

    • Tony_Hall

      Where have you seen a win at $3M? It has been $5M as a basic baseline for years now and recently I have seen closer to $6M and in one article $7,032,099, but let’s just call it $7M.

      If you use even $5M you will find that based on your info, he should be around $120M.

      • Dorasaga

        Yup, you are right. I must have mixed up the arbitration dollar value that are discounts to free agency (60% then 80%).

        But if you go through my numbers year by year (closer to the bottom), they are fitting the $5M per year model. I used the actual numbers as my reference, so it’s pretty realistic.

        Again, I’m presenting both the market “value to rate” differences on Tanaka, as a 4 win ace for 4 years.

        Wow, another post on Tanaka. My subconsciousness must love this young man more than YMCA Chicago or the suicide bomber girl!

        • Tony_Hall

          A 4 win player would be $20M per year value at $5M

          That makes just the first 4 years $80M.

          When looking at 6 years $120M, even if you want to discount some years, using your baseline that he will be a 4 win player, would put him $100M-$110M, even with some down years.

          • Dorasaga

            Ok. Let’s say that his true value is $6M x 4 per year for four, then multiply his dollar value (projected contribution) by 1.5 for his good years:

            $24M ($10),
            $38M ($11),
            $ 2M ($15),
            $18M ($17),
            $22M ($18),
            $ 4M ($18).

            A grand total of $128 million ($20M posting). It also makes his bad years look more bad, and proving a point that consistency is really overrated. Hmm… May we can clone him and create a real saver for the Ricketts? Might be less expensive… Oh wait, the numbers don’t make sense. Even MVP Verlander’s best years were $37, $32, $31 and $25 millions.

            Tanaka is not Verlander. Actually, nobody is Verlander during his prime. The V standard is making a Hall of Vs. Let’s stick with numbers from my first post, shall we?

          • Tony_Hall

            That is your choice to stick with whatever numbers you like. To say he is a 4 win player and that his 6 year value is $74M, doesn’t add up to me, even when taking into account injured or down years.

          • Dorasaga

            You missed a point: reality check. I just said, if you look at the fangraphs numbers for all aces, which is what I looked at, a win is closer to $4.5 M than your $6-7M, for what the market is willing to pay.

            Anyway, with very little chance for Tanaka to make a Verlander sum, I do believe that the Hokkaido product has a value for six years between $70-$100M.

          • Tony_Hall

            What the market pays and what a win is worth are 2 different things.

            Is Mike Trout going to get paid $40-$50M? Of course not, but if he was up for a 1 year contract right now, I bet he would come close.


            Could Verlander get paid what his best years are worth based on $5M/win? Yes and no. Yes on a one year deal, no on a long term contract. If he was up for bid on a one year contract, like Trout was in the article, I could see a team having paid him $37M. This would have been the year just after his monster season.

            Also, I use $5M as a baseline for what each win is worth. I was just showing you that it is rising and that one is showing $7M.

          • Dorasaga

            **Note: I think the problem is how we value inflation around the baseball market now and the near future (next 6 years). No way I’m figuring this out on a Tuesday!

          • Tony_Hall

            Isn’t it Wednesday? Wednesday night for you? LOL.

            In much more important numbers, what is Tanaka going to go for in in the Bill James X League? Have a good night, time for me to go to work.

          • Dorasaga

            I don’t know. Human nature in a bidding war is unpredictable.

            **Note: I think the problem is how we count in inflation on the value around the baseball market, between now and in 6 years. There needs to be a formula. No way I’m figuring this out on one night!

            The value to per win price-tag will not really increase that much for all players. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m stingy, but if I may rework the numbers, then I’ll use 3% increase between 2009 and 2015. I don’t believe that the baseball market growth will continue to outpace the US-Japan economy. China and Brazil don’t care about baseball, so there’s a limit as to how much more people can continue to afford watching baseball, whether in person or on TV. Who knows? The numbers might deflate after 2015. How would any baseball club earn more mega billion TV contracts, when networks might burst on a bubble?

            My gut says 3% increase stops at 2015, and then value remains constant until 2019. I yet need to figure out if the fangraphs dollars converted to dollars today, or it excluded inflation? e.g., Verlander in 2009 values at $36.5M for 2014, or is that $36.5M for 2009, but actually $43 for now? It’s a good reference, but I didn’t study the methods behind the list.

            As a conclusion, my original figures were “for fun,” not representing the actual baseball value in 6 years. My own tweak showed how this can work out for the Cubs, if they can sign Tanaka at closer or even under the market rate, while showing his agent what former Japanese aces were paid at, compared to other ace pitchers around baseball.

            And again, even the more consistent aces may under perform AND over perform in consecutive years. C’est la vie.

    • cubtex

      Cubs should really contend in 2015 if they sign Tanaka? I agree with a lot of what you are saying but I think 2015 is way premature. 2018 where you mention a bounce-back after an injury is realistic but not 2015. This is my argument on why Tanaka is not a good fit. You are going to be paying 60 mil for the first 2 years factoring in the posting fee and 20 mil per year on a team that has no chance for the playoffs. He will have more wear and tear on his arm. Let’s say he gets hurt in year 3(just when the Cubs start to be competitive) Of course you don’t plan on your ace or #2 pitcher to get hurt….but now you take a step backwards and another year of not getting over the hump. It is not the “right” time to sign Tanaka. Chances are slim he would even consider Chicago anyway so this is all just a fun discussion.

      • 07GreyDigger

        What if he doesn’t get hurt?

        • cubtex

          yea. what if? What would you say the odds are that he stays healthy the “years” the Cubs will be WS contenders in probably year 4 of his deal?Are you a gambling man? Gamble away. So that is almost 600 innings you are hoping that he doesn’t get hurt where the team doesn’t have a chance to win a WS. 80 mil.

          • 07GreyDigger

            That’s the thing about FA. It’s a gamble. It could go either way, but you seem pretty convinced he will get hurt. I was just being devil’s advocate.

      • Dorasaga

        There was no cause and effect in my statements, on 2015 and Tanaka.

        • cubtex

          The hope lies on his second year (2015), when the Cubs should really contend.

          This was from your post. Either way…if you are saying they will contend in 2015 with or without Tanaka….that is a stretch my man.

      • cc002600

        Why are you so convinced there is no chance he’s coming here ?
        What if the cubs outbid everyone, which I think is entirely possible. And please don’t tell me he wants to go to a winner. Guys take more money from lesser teams ALL THE TIME.

        • cubtex

          do you think the Cubs will go to 25 mil a year on 6 years? Then…yes they have a chance but cmon dude. If you were a free agent who can pick whatever team you want to go to(IF the money is close) Key point…would you pick a team with the current roster the Cubs have? We have discussed this before. The Mariners BLEW EVERYONE out of the water…that is why Cano signed with them. The Phillies BLEW EVERYONE out of the water when they signed Werth. Other teams will have to be at 20 mil per year and the Cubs will have to be at 25 mil, I have been saying this all along.

          • cc002600

            well, I do think that is possible. I think the cubs really could blow everyone out of the water. You have to remember, whatever the yankees and Dodgers have to pay this guy, it will cost them much more relatively speaking than the cubs due to the luxury tax, which is 50% over the threshold, so that will limit their bid, IMO.

            I am betting that he doesn’t go to the yankees or Dodgers. I bet he goes to either the cubs, d-backs or mariners.

            And I really believe the cubs have been gearing up for this all winter. Didn’t you find it somewhat odd that they weren’t even mentioned when it came to all other FA’s this winter ? This is exactly the type of player that they said they want. Young, starting pitching, no draft pick comp, etc.

  • Vivid_Reality

    I think its is the height of insanity to offer a player who has never thrown a pitch in the majors 15m+ annually. At least with Soler, you get him at a low AAV and he has time to develop in the minors. Hitters are also less volatile than pitchers. Tanaka could blow out his elbow next season which would essentially wipe out the first two years of his contract. There is way too much risk involved for someone I view as inferior to Darvish at the time of both signings.

    That being said, I get the temptation. If Tanaka pans out, it could easily jump our rebuilding a whole year. Shark would likely want to stay and may even sign a reasonable extension. Past that the waves of prospects start to come up and hopefully some of them stick. We could be contending by 2015. The bidding for Tanaka will likely reach ludicrous levels though and my gut tells me to stay away.

    • cubtex

      It is a HUGE risk for a team that will not be ready to compete till 2016 at the earliest.

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    Now the posting fee is to be paid in installments. MLB just keeps screwing the NPB. Here’s hoping Selig does follow through on his plan to retire.

    • Tony_Hall

      LOL, NPB agreed to these terms through negotiations. The previous deal was in huge favor to NPB. $20M still seems like a lot of money for teams to be compensated (up to) and whether it is paid in one year or two is just not that big of deal. NPB teams should be happy that they have a way to “sell off” their players to MLB teams and receive enough money to pay a large chunk of their teams payroll. Reverse this posting fee and a MLB team would need to receive $100M to be in the same ballpark as a $20M posting fee to NPB. Darvish’s team was able to pay their team payroll for 2 years on his posting fee.

  • GaryLeeT

    If Tanaka comes to Wrigley, they should tell him the clubhouse door is frozen shut, and “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”

    • paulcatanese

      Good point, they don’t want to show him the clubhouse unless they can convince him it’s
      a closet for spare baseballs:)

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  • tonydann

    Tired of reading the Tanaka articles ! The cubs could not even sign any half way good free agents and now some cubs fans think we many sign one of the most costly pitchers out there. I now the Cubs did not want to give up a draft pick. I would like to maybe see them win someday when I’m still alive!!

    • cubtex

      2 more weeks of this! I bought my 2 boys t shirts saying the same thing. Just 1 before I die :)))

    • paulcatanese

      However, there’s a big difference between
      could not and would not. Theo continues to believe it’s a “buyers market” unless he wants to get rid of someone, then to him, it’s a ” sellers market”. Not going to get many free agents that way, unless they have no value to begin with. 2018 is a reality.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I 100% agree. I’m waiting for the story about where Tanaka farts and therefore wants to go to Seattle.

      • 07GreyDigger

        Who down arrowed farts? Farts are great.

        • Dorasaga


    • brent carmona

      Remember we went neck and neck with the tigers last offseason for Sanchez on a 70 million + contract? I know Tanaka’s contract will be larger, but we definitely do have a legit shot at signing him.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    This is turning out to be a carnival with Tanaka….the same way how Steve Garvey was going around when he was a Free Agent……will there be a buffet table set up at Wrigley Field for Tanaka?………..there is 12 inches of snow on the ground, freezing cold, no leaves on the tree, and Tanaka cannot see women’s legs as he visits Chicago……but Tanaka will see Palm Trees, warm weather, grass and lots of leg & breast action on the warm California beaches………how can Theo outsell Chicago over L.A.?……offer Tanaka a free life time pass to Willis Tower observation deck!……year supply of Fannie Mae Candy…….front row tickets to Lollapalooza!…… time supply of winter coats from Men’s warehouse!………I like to see the Ricketts use part of that Tanaka money on helping the poor people in Chicago.

    • paulcatanese

      You sold me! Don’t think I will be moving back to Chicago anytime soon. The Fannie Mae Candy was the deal closer:)

  • paulcatanese

    No truer quote was ever said like the one that Santo put up there, best one I have seen so far Neil.

    • Neil

      Thanks Paul.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I hope to see my favorite Ron Santo quote up there one day, the one where Brant Brown dropped the fly ball. NOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • SirGladiator

    After making the huge mistakes of not picking up Darvish and Cespedes, naturally Theo doesn’t want to make yet another one by passing on the best player yet. We’ve got more money to spend than anybody, Tanaka can make more history here than anywhere, and he will be the biggest star on the team. There is literally no reason for him to sign anywhere else, so long as we open up our wallets the way all reports say we will. Welcome to Chicago Tanaka, you’re gonna love it here, and we’re all gonna love the Championships!

  • jtrain23

    “The Yankees will not get reckless or stupid.” Sorry I just chuckle a little when I read that.

    • SuzyS

      Yes…they always have been…:-)

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