Don’t Count the Cubs Out of the Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes

The Dodgers broke out their checkbook in a big way Wednesday and they may not be done. Clayton Kershaw agreed to a contract extension that will pay the 25-year old southpaw $215 million over the next seven years. And Kershaw can opt out of the contract after five years if he wants to pass on the last two years of the deal. According to Jon Heyman, Kershaw received an $18 million signing bonus and will be paid $22 million in 2014 ($18 million signing bonus, $4 million salary for the season), $30 million in 2015, $32 million in 2016, $33 million in 2017 and 2018, $32 million in 2019 and $33 million in 2020.

The Dodgers now have five players under contract with AAVs of $20 million or more while the rest of the National League has a total of six players and three of those wear a Phillies’ uniform. But the Dodgers are still in the running for Masahiro Tanaka and could end up with $350 million in commitments to two pitchers by next Friday.

According to multiple reports, the deal with Clayton Kershaw will have not have an impact on the team trying to sign Masahiro Tanaka. Stan Kasten would not address the Tanaka rumors Wednesday but suggested he could still be in play and told Bill Shaikin, one contract would not impact another one. Ken Rosenthal reported Dodgers’ ownership will make the call on whether or not to sign Tanaka.

The Dodgers are looking at a $250 million payroll for next season without Masahiro Tanaka. And they receive $300 million per year from their TV deal that begins this season.

Casey Close could swing a similar deal with the Dodgers for Masahiro Tanaka that he has for Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. As previously reported, Close could negotiate an opt out in Tanaka’s deal the same way he has for both Kershaw (after five years) and Greinke (after three years).

The Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes appears to be down to the Dodgers and Yankees. At least it appears that way with eight days remaining in the process.

The Angels are still trying to improve their pitching staff and have spoken with former Cubs’ starter Matt Garza. Arte Moreno confirmed to Jon Paul Morosi that his team did not meet with Tanaka while he was in Los Angeles last week. Many believe that the Mariners are still in the mix for Tanaka and the White Sox should not be counted out of the running as well.

Reports have suggested Tanaka would like to only pitch on the West Coast or for the Yankees. But when Jayson Stark “brought up the name ‘Tanaka’ to two people at the Owners Meetings on Wednesday morning, they both had the same response: Beware of the Cubs.”

The Cubs have been involved in the process for Masahiro Tanaka since the beginning. But when the posting system changed, the Cubs’ front office was given the challenge of selling Tanaka on pitching for the Cubs and for a team that was not ready to contend but for one that projects to be very good in the near future. If Stark’s sources are correct, the Cubs will end up spending more than a little bit of money this winter and in turn could speed up their building process.

The speculation will continue for a majority of the next eight days until there is some clarity in the process. And that will likely happen when teams that were thought to be in the mix for Masahiro Tanaka start signing other free agent pitchers such as Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.

And with all of that said, the deadline to sign Masahiro Tanaka is 4:00pm CST on Jan. 24.

Paul Maholm

The Cubs are one of the teams believed to be interested in signing Paul Maholm. The former Cubs’ starter joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden during Wednesday’s Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) and said the Rangers are one of the teams that “have checked in” with him this winter.

Maholm believes Masahiro Tanaka is holding up the entire free agent pitching market and once Tanaka is signed the dominoes will fall. Maholm is not just looking to sign with a contender this off-season. He realizes how the business works and said he would sign with a non-contender that could flip him at the deadline. Paul Maholm and his wife really enjoyed their short-time in Chicago.

The Cubs are looking at starters like Paul Maholm, Scott Baker, Jason Hammel, Joe Saunders and possibly Joel Pineiro as options if they are unable to land Masahiro Tanaka.

Cubs News and Notes

According to multiple reports, Rick Renteria’s meeting with the Cubs’ prospects at Northwestern was rather impressive. Jason McLeod said Renteria’s talk “was incredible” and Albert Almora “was immediately impressed.” Almora told the Tribune, “Since the day I got drafted, I’ve said this team and this organization is family, and Rick seems like he fits right in.”

According to Patrick Mooney, the Cubs had interest and were “monitoring” Grady Sizemore before they signed Chris Coghlan to a minor league contract.

During an interview on MLB Radio Network, Darwin Barney said he was at the new facility in Mesa two weeks ago. Barney worked with new hitting coaches Bill Mueller and Mike Brumley while he was there. Barney also said he heard that Starlin Castro worked with Tim Buss for three or four weeks in the Dominican Republic this winter on his strength and conditioning. Barney added Castro was not happy with the way he played last year and will be more of himself this season.

The MLB Network has been asking fans of their favorite team to vote for the face of their franchise this off-season … Anthony Rizzo was voted as the face of the Chicago Cubs.

The Orioles signed OF Tyler Colvin to a Major League deal on Wednesday. Baltimore is expected to announce the signing once Colvin passes a physical.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • Brp921

    I wouldn’t mind signing Maholm even if we did get Tanaka.

  • triple

    The price of pitching is so out of control that I’d much rather see the Cubs just sign Maholm and Baker.

    • GaryLeeT

      And then do what in 2 years? Sorry, bona fide aces are not going to come down in price.

      • triple

        I’d take my chances on Bailey, Scherzer, Masterson, and some of the other pitchers who are lined up to be free agents next offseason. They won’t be cheap either, but there are less unknown variables about their arms durability, as well as their ability to pitch in MLB.

        • mutantbeast

          Masterson is not an ace, cant retire lefties and his command is inconsistent. Hes nothing more than EJax with a better K rate. If anyone, Id go after Scherzer, even tho I suggest the Tiggers will resign him.

        • GaryLeeT

          Sorry, but there is no chance in hell, any of those guys make it to market.

    • 07GreyDigger


  • GaryLeeT

    The back loading of Kershaw’s deal tells me they are still, big players for Tanaka.

    • Tony_Hall

      $40M in year 1 when you add in the signing bonus check, is exactly saving them money from what he would have been paid if they would have waited this out.

      • calicub

        Actually tony it was reported the 18 million signing bonus was part of the 22 million he gets for 2014 with only 4 actual salary

        • Tony_Hall

          Never did add it all up, but that does make it $215M.

          His expected arbitration number was $18.25M, so it is still $4M more then if they would have let him to go to arbitration.

          • GaryLeeT


          • Tony_Hall

            Actually, it is what I get from reading Neil’s article with a quote from Jon Heyman.

            “According to Jon Heyman, Kershaw received an $18 million signing bonus and will be paid $22 million in 2014, $30 million in 2015, $32 million in 2016, $33 million in 2017 and 2018, $32 million in 2019 and $33 million in 2020.”

          • Neil

            Tony, my bad on the numbers I will correct the report.

          • Tony_Hall

            You reported what Jon Heyman reported. No problems at all.

          • Tony_Hall

            And you are still off, as it is paying him $4M more in 2014 versus what he would have made in arbitration. That is usually how extensions work with players still in arbitration years, those years normally reflect what arbitration would have paid, normally with a discount for giving the player security of a long term deal. Here the Dodgers are paying him more in 2014 and obviously more in the future.

          • GaryLeeT

            Is 2014 at least 12 million less than his other years? Could they have paid him more in 2014? End of story.

          • Tony_Hall

            You might want to check your calculator again.

            2014 – $22M
            2015 – $30M

            That is $8M He actually never makes $34M in any year.

            But if they were setting this up to make a run at Tanaka (they are saying this contract doesn’t change anything with going after Tanaka), they would have just done a 1 year deal at his arbitration number ($18M) or just done nothing and waited until next weekend to allocate the dollars in this contract to make it work with whatever they do with Tanaka.

            I believe them when they say that Kershaw’s contract and going after Tanaka has nothing to do with one another, that they can sign both if their ownership says yes.

          • GaryLeeT

            So if there was no reason to pay less for Kershaw this year then why did they? Especially since money is no object. All contracts on any given team have something to do with one another. If not, that’s like saying they have no plan.

          • Tony_Hall

            Actually there is, as I have already stated, teams normally match up the arbitration years with numbers close to what arbitration would be for that player. Usually at a discount for giving the player the security of a long term deal.

          • GaryLeeT

            Oh, you mean like Castro, and Rizzo who doubled their arb money with their contracts in 2013? Tony, sometimes you battle like the Black Knight.

          • Tony_Hall

            Sorry don’t have time to break that down, but you might want to relook as those contracts versus their year of service versus what they would have been paid if they went year to year.

            Those are team friendly deals.

          • GaryLeeT

            I didn’t say the contracts weren’t team friendly, I said they got paid a lot more in their first year of their contracts than what they were due to make, prior to the signings. Which debunks your assumption that the first year of a contract done while a player is still under team control, typically equals what they would have made through arbitration. Rizzo was due to make 498K but made 750K with a 2 million signing bonus, and that’s the norm with these contracts, not the exception. Sorry, but you are wrong on this one.

          • Tony_Hall

            Comparing 2 different things.

            In Kershaw, he has only 1 year before he would have become a free agent and Castro and Rizzo both would have had many years. But if you are saying the norm is to load up the 1st year of these contract, how can the Dodgers have saved money on Kershaw in 2014 that makes you think that they are going to make a run at him, more so than if they hadn’t extended Kershaw?

            Yes, in the first year players usually get a signing bonus, an enticement to sign the contract. This makes their 1st year pay, MORE than what they would have made. But in cases like Rizzo and Castro they usually have the following years follow to what they would have made, with the 0-3 years, usually a little higher (versus league minimum) and the 4-6 years a little lower. Both of these contracts follow that.

            Let’s look at these 2.


            $6M signing bonus
            2013 – $5M
            2014 – $5M
            2015 – $6M
            2016 – $7M
            2017 – $9M
            2018 – $10M
            2019 – $11M
            2020- $16M club option with a $1M buyout


            Castro would have been a Super 2, which would have led to 2013 being his 1st arbitration year. 14,15,16 would be his other arb years. This is obviously a case where they evened out the money in the arb years, only going from $5M to $7M for his arbitration years. If he had gone through arbitration, these years would have gone much higher, with only 2013 being an overpay. The Cubs were in the position to do this.

            17-19 are free agent years that Castro gave up potentially bigger paydays to get this contract.

            Anthony Rizzo

            $2M signing bonus
            2013 – $750,000
            2014 – $1.25M
            2015 – $5M
            2016 – $5M
            2017 – $7M
            2018 – $7M
            2019 – $11M
            Club options for 2020 & 2021
            that includes a $2M buyout
            2020 – $14.5M
            2021 – $14.5M

            Now this one shows what happens when a player with 0-3 years gets an extension.

            Yes, they threw $2M at him as a signing bonus. But his 2013 salary said basically near league minimum 750K.

            2014 – $1.25M Still in 0-3 years and given more than he would have earned, but let’s be real, this is not all that much more than he would have made as a 0-3 player.

            2015 starts his arbitration years and is why you see the jump in his pay. He also would have been a Super 2, and have 4 years of arbitration. Once again the Cubs evened this out with 2 years of $5M and 2 years of $7M. Rizzo gave up much higher arbitration years, especially the latter ones, to get this contract.

            Then another jump to $11M, reflecting that this would have been his 1st FA year. Rizzo gave up money at this point, to get this contract.

            But the real icing on this contract is the option years, that the Cubs can buy out if he isn’t worth it.

            In both of these deals they showed the basic parameter of extending players who haven’t reached FA.

            Signing bonus
            0-3 years slightly more than would have been
            4-6 years (and super 2) Overall players will make less than if they played it out year by year with arbitration and they smoothed out the yearly increases.

            1st FA years – well below expected free agent salaries, especially by the time these guys get there.

            Team options at potentially team friendly salaries with small buyouts if they are not good for the team.

            If you read what I wrote above, you will see that this follows what I said, just in more detail and examples.

          • GaryLeeT

            Do they get the signing bonus right away? OK, now add that to the fist year of the contract, and my point is made.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL Gary, Kershaw did get a huge signing bonus and the Dodgers still used his last arb year to not pay FA year money of the next 6 years. Kershaw is making more in 2014, then if he had not signed the contract and just went to arbitration or agreed to a number in line with his projected arbitration number. This did take more money from the 2014 budget or kitty for Kershaw then what they would have budgeted.

          • GaryLeeT

            Being the best pitcher in baseball there are no real comps to use in arbitration. You can’t say for sure that his arbitration figure for 2014 would not have been about 22 million. Typically, signing bonuses are more than the first year of the player’s contract. So Kershaw’s first year of his contract, including signing bonus should have been 30 to 40 million.

        • Neil

          I corrected the report. Thank you for catching.

    • K_Gripp

      Cable deal is worth 8.5 billion over 25 years. That is 340 million each year before taxes. I heard it report it yesterday that they get a $300 million deposit each season. Their current payroll is around 205 million. Before the season even starts and without any other revenue they are up nearly $100 million. I think they can afford Tanaka and they look willing to spend the money. If I were Tanaka I’d be seeking to pitch for the Dodgers.

      When can the Cubs take advantage of this type of TV revenue again?

  • Neil

    Ken Rosenthal (8:20am CST): – Sources: Cubs pushing hard for Tanaka. Angels remain involved, along with others previously mentioned – Yankees, Dodgers, etc.

  • John_CC

    There has to be an end to the Dodger’s spending, doesn’t there? $250M payroll, add Tanaka and they will be close to $100 Million OVER the luxury tax threshold. I am not up on how the tax kicks in and what the percentages are, but I reckon if their payroll $275 that with the tax they will be paying over $300M in payroll.

    I cannot even fathom the business side of this game.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Cubs pushing hard……
    Yankees pushing harder!

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