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masahiro tanakaYou probably didn’t need a sourced report to know that the Chicago Cubs would be seriously investigating the possibility of bidding on Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka if he’s posted by his team this offseason. Tanaka is expected to be posted, and is expected to command a post and a contract in the range of what Yu Darvish received two years ago ($51.7 million post, six-year, $56 million contract).

If you did need a sourced report to know the Chicago Cubs would be seriously investigating the possibility of bidding on Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka if he’s posted by his team this offseason, Phil Rogers has it for you. Rogers says Major League sources indicate Tanaka is the “top priority” for the Cubs this offseason. Bruce Levine has also said in the past that he’s heard Tanaka is the Cubs’ top target, for what it’s worth.

Tanaka, who turns 25 later this week (we share a birthday! … and he’s seven years my junior … le sigh), has dominated the NPB for the past few years, recording a sub-2.00 ERA each of the past three season. This year, including the playoffs, he’s 25-0, which is going to get much more play than it merits (because, you know, W/L record sucks). In 212 regular season innings, he struck out 183 (which is actually a healthy drop in strikeout rate from recent years), and walked 32. His ERA was 1.27. He will be the “top priority” for a great many teams, I’d expect.

As for the actual process of landing Tanaka, it could be substantially different this time around than posts in the past. You’ll recall that, previously, when a Japanese team wanted to “sell” a player to a team in MLB, they would go through the posting system. In that system, interested MLB teams would submit a blind bid for the right to negotiate with that player. The winning team would have a certain period of time to negotiate a contract, and, if completed, the Japanese team would then receive the posting bid. If no deal is worked out, the money is returned to the MLB team.

As constructed, the system was designed to get MLB teams to bid against themselves (look no further than the Yu Darvish post, which exceeded $50 million by the Rangers, but for which the teams in second and third were believed to have bid somewhere in the $20 million range), thus transferring more money to the Japanese team. I get it. If I were that Japanese team, I’d love this system.

The players, however, as you might expect, hate the system. It reduces their negotiating ability, and shifts money that would otherwise go to them instead to their home team. MLB teams also don’t much care for the rule, for obvious reasons.

We’ve heard for months now that the system might be revisited this offseason, and Joel Sherman reports that one possibility – just a possibility – would have as many as three teams “winning” the post, and the player would then be able to choose one of those teams with which to negotiate. A system like this would not only give more teams an opportunity to land the player, but would also artificially drive down posting bids (if you knew you had to fall only in the top three, you’re not going to bid quite as outrageously as you would if you knew you had to have the top bid).

(It seems to me that the best system could involve the Japanese team setting a posting price, and any team that is willing to meet it can have the right to negotiate with the player. Then, whichever team – of the teams that met the posting price – actually signs the player will pay the posting price to the Japanese team. The losing teams do not lose their money. Alternatively, you could have a posting system where the posting bids go to the Japanese team regardless of who wins the post. The winning team is the only one that can negotiate with the player, though. In this system, posting bids would go way down, but the total yield to the Japanese team could be comparable to what it is in the past. The winning team could get a bargain (but the second place team could lose a whole lot of cash for nothing). I like it.)

Pending those changes – which could dramatically alter the bidding approach – I don’t see a scenario where Tanaka does not command a total commitment nearing or exceeding what Darvish did. No, Tanaka is not believed to be the ace-level pitcher that Darvish has proved to be, but the market has changed dramatically in the last two years. To deny that fact and cling to your old assumptions of what kinds of contracts are reasonable is to bury your head in the sand and be passed up. As we’ve watched what has happened to contracts over the last two offseasons – in tandem with the new CBA’s changes to free agency, and exploding television revenues – there is a clear, upward trend. It was striking after 2011. It was shocking after 2012. And after this season? How would you describe the Tim Lincecum contract? I would call it paradigm-shifting. There is a new normal now, and elite, prime age talent like Tanaka is going to command huge dollars, even if he doesn’t compare to Darvish.

The Cubs should come ready to pay the price of poker, or bow out early. I’m not particularly interested in hearing that they lodged a bid that no one expected would be competitive.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    So the Cubs need to decide if Tanaka is worth $16 million/year for 6 years…is he thought to be better than E. Jackson?

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Maybe more important is the age. That alone makes him more attractive than EJax.

  • Oswego Chris

    Now granted, I have only seen clips like everyone else, but I am not so sure Tanaka is too far below Darvish, you have to probably view him like landing a top 5-10 draft pick, just a bit older, but MLB ready.

  • Kramden

    >> you have to probably view him like landing a top 5-10 draft pick, just a bit older, but MLB ready. <<

    Just curious why you arbitrarily picked the 5-10 range and not some other?

    Are you that familiar with this pitcher?

    Thanks

    • Oswego Chris

      Based on plus stuff I have seen and scouting reports, the league he plays in is very good…I would say as high or higher than a 5-10 range college pitcher, but not a top three guy like Sonny Gray or Strasburg, etc

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    65 million will be the winning posting fee. 7 year 75 mil contract

    • Kevin

      So if that is how much you think it will take….if you are the Cubs do you spend the 140 million on Tanaka?

      • YourResidentJag

        God I hope not . That 140mil could go to so many other holes the Cubs still have to fill.

      • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

        The crazy thing about Tanaka is Linescum got 2 yr 35 mil
        So, getting Tanaka for less than 17 mil per yr is a steal The posting
        fee doesn’t count against the cap. 7 yr 75 mil plus 65 mil posting fee is acceptable.

  • Justin

    I would like to think that all of the dough the Cubs have saved moving guys and shedding portions if not all of those salaries would be going towards this bid.. The last year alone the Cubs saved around $15 Mill in salary dumps right? I hope that being aggressive in this situation is one of the main reasons they did it…

  • Funn Dave

    He’d be my #1 target. He and maybe Choo.

  • Big Daddy

    I am hearing the Cards may trade Lance Lynn. What do you guys think about trying to get him?

    • http://comicsandcardsupplies.com cms0101

      Not likely the Cards would trade him to the Cubs. The rare Cubs-Cards trade hasn’t really worked out for the Cubs over time.

  • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

    If he is not a “True Ace” well below Darvish the Cubs should pass on him given the uncertainly of being new and unproven to MLB hitters! The FO plan, Step one shed bad player contracts, step two avoid bad long term contracts.

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      The FO is also all about gathering as much young talent as they can. Right now the Cubs are stacked with hitting prospects but lacking in TOR pitching. Add Tanaka to CJ Edwards and Pierce Johnson, and the Cubs will without a doubt have the #1 farm system.

      • cub2014

        tanaka wont affect our farm system rating
        he is a MLB pitcher

        • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

          So was Fuji but he showed up on some prospect lists before the season. I believe he was ranked as the Cubs 8th best prospect by mlb.com going into last year.

          • ssckelley

            I believe Fukodome was as well.

        • On The Farm

          Not true here is what I found on the Rangers for Darvish

          http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2012/2612842.html

          So Baseball America considered him in their preseason rankings. Some services may account for him since he has no MLB experience.

    • cub2014

      tanaka stats (24)2013: W-24 L-0, era 1.27 SO 183
      yu darvish (26)2011: W-18 L-6, era 1.44 SO 276
      tanaka put up as good or better numbers and was
      2 years younger. So I think he would be considered
      a potential ace at MLB level.

      • bbmoney

        To clarify your age comment, Darvish had his age 26 season this year in the MLB. 2011 was Darvish’s age 24 season (August birthday).

      • On The Farm

        Darvish was 25 his first year with the Rangers. He just completed his age 26 season in the MLB. So if those are indeed the stats of Tanaka’s and Darvish’s last year in Japan, it would be both of their 24 year old season.

      • Edwin

        How do their HR/9, K/9, and BB/9 line up? Wins and ERA aren’t as reliable to judge a pitcher on.

  • Funn Dave

    Solid article btw. Rumors, facts anyalysis, suggestions.

  • Ken

    “It seems to me that the best system could involve the Japanese team setting a posting price, and any team that is willing to meet it can have the right to negotiate…”

    Can’t do it that way. The Japanese team would set a posting fee that only the richest teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers) could meet.

  • Kyle

    I’m pretty sure the chances of the Cubs landing Tanaka are pretty much nil at this point. I’d be surprised if we could afford to be in the top 3 bidders, but even if we are, there’s essentially no chance he’s choosing us over an LA or New York.

    The fact that he’s our “top priority” is good, I guess, in the sense that we aren’t giving up on the best things before we’re aced out on them. But we’re going to be aced out.

    • YourResidentJag

      Exactly, and you forgot about another team like Toronto, who didn’t trade for all those players last year just so they could wind up in last place.

    • MightyBear

      I agree.

    • Patrick W.

      I will be quite surprised if the Yankees don’t land him. With an emphasis on them trying to stay under the luxury tax, they can spend a ton of money on the posting fee and then have a decent AAV contract and get a solid pitcher without breaking the tax threshold.

  • Blackhawks1963

    So we know the Yankees are going very hard after Tanaka, since they are desperate for pitching and the posting fee won’t impact their luxury tax dilemma. And several other teams are interested in Tanaka as welll.

    So figure the winning posting fee is at LEAST $60 million. Plus the team that wins Tanaka still needs to dish out a long-term contract, which probably approachs $50 million.

    So do we REALLY think it makes sense to commit $110 million to Tanaka??? Boy, I don’t know about that. What happens if this guy is nothing special?!?

    • Kyle

      It absolutely makes sense. Yes, there’s a risk that the guy turns out to be nothing special. But that’s the risk no matter how you spend that $110m, and not spending it just leaves you way behind.

      • Blackhawks1963

        Disagree completely. Look at the Cardinals right now. Their 4th World Series appearance since 2004 and they have been brilliant at drafting and developing their own pitching, augmented by some good trades for pitching where they traded away homegrown talent.

        I don’t want to touch Tanaka as these prices. But I’m not going to worry about this either because it sure sounds like the Yankees intend not to lose out. So let the Steinbrenner brothers submit an insane bid and commit insane money to Tanaka. I’ll be happy when the Cubs “lose out” on this.

        • Kyle

          You are going to have to explain to me how spending $110m on Tanaka prevents the Cubs from drafting and developing well. They have no impact on each other.

          • jt

            They could give up good players in trade to get better players with expensive contracts. They could even create packages of ML players + prospects for expensive ML players + better prospects.
            they coould ….

          • DocPeterWimsey

            There is certainly an ingrained belief that spending $XM on a free agent detracts from the attention of a system’s scouts.

            As for the Cards or any other team being “brilliant” at drafting and developing their own pitching, this is a lot like “clutch hitting”: how teams do one year does not predict how they will do the next. Yes, the Cards have gotten a ridiculous number of good young pitchers in recent years: but that came after a stretch of not doing that under largely the same people. They’ve gotten lucky (so far) with this crop with lack of injuries (no, it’s not their program: other young Cards pitchers have broken down) and guys actually getting to their floors, never mind their ceilings.

            That written, clearly they are scouting well to even get the chance for such an improbable crop.

        • cubfanincardinalland

          Most of the success the Cardinals had until this season was with pitchers who came from other organizations. Based on that, you should be saying that is the model.
          Real answer is there are many ways to aquire players, the best teams use all the options.

    • Justin

      At $110 it for sure makes sense, considering the economics for TOR arms. But, I have a feeling that the total bill on this guy is going to be around $140 Million though, at the point I am not so sure…

      • Blackhawks1963

        $110 million makes sense for an absolute certainty. Or in other words a young proven major league starting pitcher…somebody like a Zach Greinke for example. But at least $110 million for a Japanese import?!? No thanks. Like I said, I’ll be pleased and relieved when the Cubs “lose out” on the bidding.

        • Justin

          If he was an absolute guaranteed certainty he would be around $200 Million at his age. Sure, there’s a risk with these imports but the Darvish deal/bid looks smart at this point, and by all accounts this guy is on the same level. So I don’t think $110 Mill. is bad at all..

          • YourResidentJag

            Except for the fact that Brett referenced a piece where his advanced metrics didn’t look so good. :)

        • Kyle

          There’s no such thing as an absolute certainty in baseball players.

          • Patrick W.

            Nor any human, for that matter

            • mjhurdle

              not true, i once worked with a guy with who it was a 100% absolute certainty he would mess something up. :)

        • ssckelley

          I hate bringing this back up but if Lincecum can get 17.5 million per year a 6 year for 110 million for Tanaka might be a steal.

        • Hee Seop Chode

          I don’t know about certainty, but Rodgers says the following:

          “Why Tanaka?

          He’s 6-2, 205 pounds with a fastball that tops out at 97 and a splitter that is wicked. He gets a lot of ground balls to go with swings and misses, and he will pitch at age 25 next season, meaning he should be at the peak of his career in 2015, when the Cubs hope to become consistent playoff contenders behind a rebuilt farm system and some well-chosen free agents.”

      • hansman

        How much you want to bet I could go back 2 years and find an incredibly similar post about Darvish.

    • ssckelley

      I agree, the Yankees being able to spend money that does not count against the luxury tax and able improve their team is going to be awfully tough to outbid.

    • mjhurdle

      $110 million for 5-6 years makes sense to me, especially considering that 50-60 million of that is a posting fee and we won’t be paying the guy $20 million a year.
      If the Cubs miss out on Tanaka, i hope it is for something more than ‘Well, there is a chance he isn’t that good, so we pass”.

      • Eternal pessemist

        In that case, since Tanaka would only be getting around 9-10 mil of that they may want to tack on another two years at 13 – 14 mil… It may look good to him and you would get an additional two cheap years out of him…if he doesn’t break.

    • Indy57

      Getting Tanaka gives the team so much more flexibility. A much deeper rotation and stronger back-ups in Iowa, no need to rob the system of current prospects to trade for others (Price, et. al.) and a chance to be competitive in 2014 instead of waiting another year. The bullpen also promises to improve in 2014 giving us a better shot at being competitive. Think a reverse of 200k-300k fans in seats at $50 each (total spend per fan) and your up $10MM-$15MM. He’s worth it IF he performs.

    • Brains

      The problem is the current logic that _nothing_ makes sense if it involves investing in the team at a high margin. Well, if we want to compete in baseball, we have to invest. Austerity measures just destroyed Europe’s mode of production, and they’ll destroy the Cubs too. You can’t win in a talent sport without talent. And you have to pay talent for their talent.

      • DarthHater

        “Austerity measures just destroyed Europe’s mode of production, and they’ll destroy the Cubs too.”
        [img]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5546/10557092985_7f1e8d4e22_o.png[/img]

      • AdamAE24

        Umm.

        Ok.

        I mean you’re just so wrong on both accounts but believe what you want.

  • North Side Irish

    Off topic, but made me happy.

    Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 1m
    An early draft of the BP 101 has three #Cubs prospects in the mix for top ten consideration. That’s #rig.

    • ssckelley

      Wow, has this ever happened?

      • Kyle

        2011 Royals had three top 10 on the BA list. All position players. And two more pitchers in the top 20.

        • ssckelley

          Wow, do you know how that worked out for them?

          • Kyle

            They’ve been perpetually frustrated by their inabilities to turn what was once dubbed the greatest farm system in history into MLB success.

            • ssckelley

              Thanks Kyle.

              • Kyle

                Wherever there’s bad news to be delivered, I’ll be there.

                • ssckelley

                  Haha, I know…but you still saved me looking it up myself. Seeing that it was the Royals I kinda figured that was going to be your response.

              • YourResidentJag

                It’s not Kyle. Check out Rany Jazayerli’s articles on the Royals and he’ll tell you all you need to know.

          • SH

            On which subject, here’s a study I haven’t seen linked here before: http://www.royalsreview.com/2011/2/14/1992424/success-and-failure-rates-of-top-mlb-prospects

            Rather interesting. The good news: top 20 prospects do quite well, relatively! The bad news: still only 1/2 are good, and 1/3 are very good. Of course, getting one great player and two regulars out of our current crop would be quite pleasant. But it does show that even a top tier farm system is unlikely to, alone, be the way to success.

            • ssckelley

              But I keep going back to the last time the Cubs had a farm system this good, they got within a few outs of the World Series.

              • Kyle

                I’d be pretty stunned if we don’t get *some* playoff runs out of this set of prospects (though that set also benefited from a weak division that this group won’t have the luxury of).

                • ssckelley

                  They just need to find another trade partner like the Pirates, some of those prospects helped the Cubs land Ramirez and DLee. Marlins perhaps?

                • hansman

                  That’s also assuming that the Pirates, Reds AND Cardinals ALL remain as good as they are now. To expect all three of them to continue to be 85+ winners every year for the next 5-7 years is as pessimistic as thinking all of the big 4 will become average or better MLB starters.

                  • Kyle

                    It’s not assuming that at all. Really, you only need *one* of them to be good to bring on a tougher division than the mid-2000s NL Central.

                    • Hee Seop Chode

                      I disagree. If the goal is to make it into the playoffs, but the wildcard is much easier to attain if the Central deteriorates a bit.

                    • Hee Seop Chode

                      *Edit*

                      I disagree. If the goal is to make it into the playoffs, the wildcard is much easier to attain with a weakened Central Division

                  • Funn Dave

                    Thinking all four of the Big 4 will become average or better starters is pessimistic? Really? :P

                    And Kyle’s right, you don’t need four of a division’s teams to be super good in order for it to be a tough division. It’s looking like the Pirates and Cardinals will be good for at least a few more years while the Reds might fizzle out out; but even then, if the Cards and Pirates both finished better than the Cubs, it makes wildcard contention pretty bleak.

          • mjhurdle

            Weren’t those 3 Moustakas, Hosmer, and Myers?
            BP had them in the top 15, BA top 10.

            So far, Moustakas is the real miss there. Hosmer has had a respectable start, with potential to become very good if he puts it together, and Myers had a great half-season this year.
            I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same ratio in our top 3. One miss, one above average, and one (possibly) way above average.

    • On The Farm

      The question is will three top ten (most likely Baez, Bryant, and Alomra) be enough to trump two top three (Sano and Buxton) as top system in baseball?

      • Kyle

        There’s enough lists out there that someone will rank the Cubs No. 1. Probably more than one someone.

        • On The Farm

          I was thinking of it as a consensus. Kind of like how everyone agrees Buxton is thee top prospect, would having three top 10s be enough for everyone to consider the Cubs as the best?

          • Kyle

            I doubt it.

            Because first, the Cubs don’t have three top 10s yet. They have three players “in consideration” for top 10 lists.

            Baseball Prospectus is *way* higher on Almora than just about anybody else. So I doubt anyone else even has the Cubs close to three top 10s.

  • North Side Irish

    Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 1m
    Baez and Giolito. Elite potential. RT @WexlerRules @ProfessorParks Outside of Buxton, which player in MiLB has the biggest overall upside?

    More from the Professor…

  • North Side Irish

    Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks now
    Almora might be the #Cubs top prospect. RT @dixonm13 @ProfessorParks Baez, Bryant, Edwards? Can’t see Almora or Soler there yet.

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      @ProfessorParks: Baez and Giolito. Elite potential. RT @WexlerRules @ProfessorParks Outside of Buxton, which player in MiLB has the biggest overall upside?

      Gotta love all the love!

    • ssckelley

      Somebody show this to Blub! :)

      • hansman

        I think he’s fighting his way through a stroke after reading that.

        • ssckelley

          Either that or he is yelling at Parks on twitter right now.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 31m
            Almora might be the #Cubs top prospect. RT @dixonm13 @ProfessorParks Baez, Bryant, Edwards? Can’t see Almora or Soler there yet.

            • ssckelley

              ProfessorParks: @mqmoody Almora profiles as a legit CF at the highest level, with the chance to be a .300 hitter with power.

              /Drools

              • hansman

                Depending on how you rank prospects, it’s easy to put Almora there, not as easy as it was a year ago, but it’s doable.

                Baez’s power is fairly amazing.

                • ssckelley

                  It is and so is Bryant’s, I think we have a great shot at seeing both in Wrigley next season.

      • Blublud

        In all seriousness, it’s all a matter of preference. If Almora ends up better then Baez or Bryant, all the better for us all. I do think Parks meant to say he will be the better player eventually, because even if that were true, there is no way you could rank Almora ahead of Baez at the present moment.

        • ssckelley

          You’re no fun!

          Almora > Baez

        • On The Farm

          Well prospect ranking factors in projections too so if they project that Almora will be better than Baez, he would be rated higher.

  • Fenway Frank

    I’d rather have Garza (or another MLB pitcher). There is far too much risk in this move for me. If Tanaka is a flop then it could wreck the balance sheets. 15%-20% of your payroll for a single player is very risky. Especially when he’s never pitched in MLB.

    • Kyle

      So in order to avoid risk, you want to go after Matt “Elbowsplode Waiting To Happen” Garza?

      • Fenway Frank

        If I’m a GM, I know how to price that in. Maybe GM’s know how to price in Asian to American league change. But I as a fan (imaginary GM) do not. So it makes me wary. Also, didn’t Tanaka have shoulder issues?

        • BWA

          The last two big name Asian pitchers were Darvish and Ryu. Both have been quite good.

          • On The Farm

            Cespedes and Puig are good Cuban players, therefore Jose Abreu will be a good player for the White Sox.

            Sadly you can’t just assume that because Player X was successful in the Asian baseball leagues and it translated well to the MLB, doesn’t mean Player Y will. Fukudome was a pretty good Japan league OFer, but was never a a very good MLB player.

            • ssckelley

              I agree with what you are saying but the success rate the top international free agents have had lately is hard to ignore. The Cubs were unlucky enough to find the one clunker of the bunch. But Fukodome was a +4.9 WAR over his 4 years in Chicago, just not worth the $48 million they paid him for it. I often wonder if the results would have been better had they been able to get Fukodome back when he was 26 instead of 31.

              • On The Farm

                Soler is younger and cheaper than Puig so declare the Cubs as the lucky one is still a bit premature, but I understand the meat and potatoes of your point. Also, pitching is a different animal. All it takes is one injury to derail a pitcher’s effectiveness. I realize that risk is also possible with hitters, but it is much more likely to happen with a pitcher. You should never assume because one player is good in a league, the next player that puts up those numbers could be just as good, because you could end up with the “dud”.

  • http://nonebutwouldloveonehaha James Smith

    I think the Rangers will get Tanaka they too need pitching. They also have money to spend and they have Darvish who could help Tanaka adjust. I think the rangers would make a strong push for Tanaka seeing as they need pitching. The rangers could make another run to the world series with the addition of Tanaka and some offensive additions plus Nelson Cruz returning from suspension.

  • http://nonebutwouldloveonehaha James Smith

    Hey, Brett do you think that maybe the cubs could get a manager for the time being then go after someone else. I was thinking while watching the series “you know who would be a GREAT manager” Yadier Molina. What if in a few years when Yads is old and retires what if he were brought in? He is obviously great with young pitchers hence the cardinals success. Not to mention Yadier has that Latin influence. I know by the time he retires the cubs prospects will already be to the majors or have been for a year. But they would still be young and he could help them blossom even more into star impact players.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I’ve read a bunch of stuff on Tanaka. By no means is there consensus that he can be a TOR starting pitcher in the bigs. In fact, the majority of opinions suggest a mid-rotation guy whose pricetag is going to be driven thru the roof because the Yankees will be involved and there is a general lack of good starting pitching available to sign or trade for this winter.

    Sorry, but I’m not gambling $110 M plus that Tanaka turns out to a “good” starting pitcher in this league. Let other teams get into a hyper bidding war over Tanaka. Think about it….what if he ends up costing a total package of $130 M and ends being a hybrid Matt Garza / Edwin Jackson type?!? No thanks !

    • waittilthisyear

      yes, but then if the cubs do no go hard after him, and he becomes successful, there will be a line out the door saying “theo swings and misses again on a big time international prospect!”

      • AB

        I agree this year. I hear so many people complain that Theo didn’t bid enough to get Yu, Cespedes, Puig, etc.. (Players I would love to have as well) But they would throw a fit if the FO forked out the cash for an unproven guy like him. I don’t know if he will be a success or not. But I think with his age, that kind of contract would be a good one for a 1 or 2 starter.

        • YourResidentJag

          Problem is with the crazy money being spent on FAs and the Cubs seeming to choose the more conservative path, I don’t know why that path would be chosen now. For examples, see Darvish (who many ppl at that time thought the Rangers were spending crazy $$$ not including me) and Sanchez (who the Cubs finished apparently 2nd in the bidding and to an owner who those same ppl feel spends too crazy of money of player contracts).

        • Kyle

          Speak for yourself. I was all aboard the Yu Train.

          • On The Farm

            Nobody would ever try and speak for Yu :)

            • YourResidentJag

              No, but one of the ppl who follows me on Twitter is obsessed with him, so she might. :)

          • MightyBear

            I was too. I was pissed when the Rangers got Darvish.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        The power of big market teams should be an ability to buy/spend big on upside international tallent, understanding that misses can be absorbed. That is to say, win bids on 3 players knowing that one or two will not live up to their contracts. With the collective barganing agreement limitting the compeditive advantages to resourse rich organizations, this seems like one of the few frontiers left where $ can be turned into tallent.

        • SH

          Very much this. It’s been said a million times but it’s no less true. Obviously 20/20 hindsight, but: if we had bid to win (i.e. no-doubt victory) on the other three major int’l names in the past two years we would have had more or less 100% ROI, and our major league team would have two impact bats and a TOR starter. All still young, and at the cost of nothing but money! And we’d still have Soler/Baez/Almora/Alcantara/Vogelbach in our system, with whichever lower pick we had this year still likely to be a top-100 prospect.

          Now we’re bouncing around the idea of trading what we tanked for (i.e. prospects) in order to get an older player who will cost us more in extension than an int’l FA and, as all ballplayers/humans are wont to do, present risk going forward (i.e. Price). Meanwhile, at only the risk of wasting money, we could have taken a chance on high quality players. To make the same mistake now that we made in 2012 would be a real bummer.

    • Professor Snarks

      Blackhawk, GOOD pitcher have value. The guy seems durable, he only costs money, and his age fits the Cubs needs. I think they have to make a serious run for him.

      With the projected offense the Cubs are developing, they can win a ton of games without a TOR starter. (playoffs are a different story).

    • Funn Dave

      Maybe not that he WILL be, or that he’s LIKELY to be, but there does seem to be a consensus that he COULD be a TOR starter.

  • cheryl

    I think there are three potential landing places for Tanaka – the Yankees and Cubs are pretty likely bidders but Boston may be a surprise bidder. Tanaka may see the cubs as the best possibility because of the players in the minors that are a year or two away – Bryant, Baez, etc. In contrast he may look at the Yankees and wonder how well they will compete given retirement and a depleted farm system.

    • Teigh Cubs Teigh

      But with the bidding system as it currently stands he would have no real choice as to where he goes even if he did have a personal preference. I suppose he could always decline the contract offer but that’s about it as far as his power to choose.

  • Steve

    Spent a week visiting relatives in Arizona. Watched KRIS BRYANT play two ball games and if he isn’t playing 3rd base at Wrigley Field by mid season something is wrong. Not only can Bryant hit, but he made 3 outstanding fielding plays. Cub fans just might have a future All-Star in this young player.

  • North Side Irish

    Jim Callis ‏@jimcallisMLB now
    My latest @MLBPipeline AFL report is on the #Cubs, w/focus on @KrisBryant_23: http://ht.ly/qfTAN

  • babe ruth

    on a side note…. i will be attending my first ever cubs convention this year woot woooot

  • Aaron

    My hope is that the Cubs are serious about having the winning bid for Tanaka’s services, rather than their media department coming up with stories of interest to appease fans, and the ball club isn’t actually going to spend any major money this off-season.

    The Cubs, any certainly other professional teams, are not above creating distractions from the team itself. With over 100 years from winning a championship, we want the truth from ownership and FO…and yes…I believe we can “handle the truth.”

    • Blackhawks1963

      What? What matters is what the Cub scouts and TheoJed think of Tanaka and his relative worth. If they think he is worthy of an insane bid, then great. But if they think he is worth a fixed bid amount where the probability is the Yankees blow them away, then good too.

      I am really, really, really not a fan of cutting a blank check to get Tanaka, who by all accounts is a mid-rotation guy and who regardless is going to cost astronimical dollars given that the Yankees are going at this whole hog.

      Can the Cubs afford a $120 M bust in Tanaka? Hell no. It will set the building program back years if he doesn’t meet expectations. I’d much rather hitch my wagon to the future of Pearce Johnson, CJ Edwards, Kyle Hendricks and other young pitchers within the systme right now than getting into a mega-bidding war for a Japanese import.

      • On The Farm

        “I am really, really, really not a fan of cutting a blank check to get Tanaka, who by all accounts is a mid-rotation guy ”

        Right that’s why Baseball America says he can be a #2 starter.

        From BA: The most prized talent in Japan is Tanaka, a 24-year-old who some scouts project as a potential No. 2 starter who can immediately step into a major league rotation.

        http://www.baseballamerica.com/majors/as-teams-scout-masahiro-tanaka-posting-system-changes-could-be-coming/

      • Funn Dave

        I can’t speak for Aaron, but I think you’re misinterpreting his post. He’s not saying the Cubs should go all in on Tanaka if he costs more than what they’re willing to spend, but rather that he hopes their interest is more than just a feigned attempted to appease fans.

  • chrisfchi

    If we get the shot at Tanaka, I’d offer $15.5mil a year for 6. Get shark locked in at about $14-14.5. Run out a rotation of:

    Tanaka
    Shark
    Wood
    Arrieta
    Jackson

    Move Grimm to the pen.

    • YourResidentJag

      Except the Shark extension on the horizon doesn’t look as good as it did during the year: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/10/samardzija-extension-appears-unlikely.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

      • chrisfchi

        You got a point. I figured if were going to throw hypothetical situations out there that would be mine. So if shark doesn’t agree to terms trade him, maybe Rusin/Grimm fill out the rotation. Just keep EJax at #5. That’s where he belongs.

        • YourResidentJag

          Well, things are evolving as the offseason goes, so who really knows at this point. I guess that’s what I’m saying. The situations during the offseason remain fluid for every team.

          • MightyBear

            Trade the Shark now.

            • YourResidentJag

              Yeah. Dammit right now…as in 5 seconds ago. ;)

              • DarthHater

                What? Shark has been traded??

                • YourResidentJag
                  • Eternal Pessimist

                    I wonder if this will be the path of more soon-to-be free agents in the future. With the 1st round pick compensation tied to them when they become free agents it may be best to force your team to trade you first, giving the player more leverage to ask for a higher salary (if I understand it correctly, after being traded Shark won’t have that possible compensation pick tied to his next contract).

                    • Professor Snarks

                      I think, if Shark is traded this off season or at this trade deadline, the team that trades for him would get draft compensation if he didn’t resign. I think the cutoff is being with a team for an entire year.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      That is only the case if he is trading during the 2015 season. If he has a complete season with any team, they have the right to give him a qualified offer.

                    • ssckelley

                      Teams generally want to trade players like this anyway. Because of the draft pool dollars the compensation picks have more value these days but teams still get a much greater return out of players by trading them.

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      OK…makes sense. So Shark is spinning the possibly $60 million dollar wheel in hopes of making an extra $10 million…quite a risk to be taking.

                • Jono

                  My inside source says…..im about to fart

                  • mjhurdle

                    #Retweet

                  • chrisfchi

                    Need confirmation from an outside source. Where’s Paul Sullivan when ya need him…

            • Chad

              I agree with trading Shark. I’m not a believer in him as a TOR guy. He has the stuff, but hasn’t developed the pitching mentality he would need to be that guy. I think the cubs could get a couple really good prospects, maybe even a potential TOR guy back. I’d like to see this trade this off season, but at the trade deadline would be ok as well.

  • Jon

    We’re still using Bruce Levin as a source?

  • Blackhawks1963

    Unconfirmed rumor that Brad Ausmus is being interviewed by the Cubs on Wednesday. Again, unconfirmed. Apparently Eric Wedge WILL for sure be interviewing tomorrow Tuesday.

    • boogens

      I hope that your right, BH1963. It seems like, aside from Acta (who would be my last choice), all of the candidates have minimal managerial experience. Ausmus is recognized as having a highly intellectual baseball mind and a lot of upside so I think it’s a good thing to talk to him.

      • boogens

        you’re”, not “your” (damnit)

  • Jon

    Wedge is garbage, why are they even wasting time with him?

    • When the Music’s Over

      One could take the continued increase in candidates a few different ways:

      1) The Cubs aren’t really sure what they’re looking for, so interview everybody.

      2) The Cubs are being very picky right now, but are having a difficult time finding someone that fits their requirements, so interview everybody.

      3) The Cubs are doing proper due diligence, with some candidates as favor interviews, so interview everybody.

      Result: Interview everybody

      • Jon

        It’s also possible that Theo is being put in his place by Tom Ricketts(and the Wedge interview is forced), much like last Cherrington last year when he wanted a younger, ‘lesser’ name but Lucchiano forced Bobby V on him.

        • When the Music’s Over

          That type of candidate would be of the #3 variety.

        • http://odu Greenroom

          “It’s also possible Theo is being put in his place.” Honestly, where do you come up with this garbage? Yes, Ricketts has drawn a line in the sand, and this is where he puts his foot down. Your posts are just ridiculous. Complete garbage.

          • On The Farm

            Its not crazy to think that the owner of the business suggested that one candidates be included in the second round of interviews.

            • http://odu Greenroom

              yes, I would agree with that comment. But not with Ricketts. Cuban, Steinbrenners, yes. He has let Theo and Hoyer run the team. We can never be certain, how much input he has/does not have on baseball decisions, but the evidence suggests, he is letting Theo, etc run the show.

              • Funn Dave

                Where’s this evidence exactly? I haven’t seen any either way. I do know that when people have millions of dollars invested in something, though, they tend to want to have some control over it.

          • Jon

            lol, ok Mike Gundry

        • ssckelley

          I certainly hope that Ricketts does not have much involvement in this process.

  • YourResidentJag

    And so it begins…about that Shark extension?

    • On The Farm

      If he can be reasonable and understand he shouldn’t get paid like an Ace, I say extend him. If not we might as well trade him for some young arms and try and build around Tanaka (have to go all out for him) and for the present Wood and Jackson.

      • Funn Dave

        Yes this is exactly the strategy I would pursue.

        • Funn Dave

          Which, of course, makes it obviously the right strategy.

  • Aaron

    Brad Ausmus could end up being a good choice for the Cubs over the next 3 season while the team is still in development. After the 2nd season, we can evaluate his “success” to determine if he should be offered an extension.

    Ausmus, 44, had an 18-year career. He is a lifetime .251 hitter with three Gold Gloves. His reputation is rock solid among the baseball world.

    • On The Farm

      While he hasn’t been publicly confirmed as not in the running for manager, I have to think if they are proceeding on to second interviews with a few candidates, and the only reason another candidate hasn’t had an interview is because his club is playing in the World Series, I just don’t see Ausmus as a front runner. Based on the Hoyer connection, and the availability of interviewing Ausmus, it makes you wonder why they haven’t done it yet.

      • Funn Dave

        See above–Blackhawk says they are in fact interviewing Ausmus on Wednesday. Which is good news to me; I, too, was starting to worry that he was out of the running.

        • On The Farm

          Well I saw that, but he said unconfirmed rumor. This is coming from the guy who a week or so ago said that we should make our “manager predictions” based on fact so until I see it from a credible source I won’t believe it.

          • Jon

            Blackhawks1963 is the unconfirmed source and the unconfirmed source is a 53 year old man sitting at a keyboard making up rumors.

          • YourResidentJag

            Well, he did interview today for the Tigers job….different team though.

            • On The Farm

              Yeah I am not sure that proves anything. The Cubs are starting their second round and they haven’t brought Ausmus in yet. I would say it’s not looking good for him.

              • YourResidentJag

                Not really saying it does….it does prove though that Blackhawk has the wrong team. ;)

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