Jed Hoyer on Masahiro Tanaka: “We’re Going to Be Involved in the Process”

masahiro tanakaRarely do you get rock solid confirmation that a particular team will be pursuing a particular player in a given offseason. Sure, you might know on the basis of sourced reports, deduction, and oblique comments. But it’s not typical for a front office to say, “Yeah, we’re going to be going after that guy.”

I wouldn’t say that Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer exactly said that with respect to Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but he came as close as anyone would.

Speaking with Dave Kaplan on his eponymous show yesterday, Hoyer was asked about Tanaka, who is expected to be posted (made available for a price) by his team in Japan this offseason. Hoyer’s response was candid.

“[Tanaka] is a guy that we’ve scouted heavily, [and] we’ve done our due diligence,” Hoyer said. “He’s been outstanding not only this year but for a really long time. He’ll help someone’s rotation if he comes over here, and obviously we’re going to be involved in the process.”

Well, how about that. Given Tanaka’s age (he’s about to turn 25), apparent ability, and the Cubs’ pitching needs, it was never a secret that a player like Tanaka would interest them greatly. But it’s refreshing to hear it so plainly confirmed.

That said, the language used was sufficiently flexible to fall short of a guarantee that the Cubs will be aggressive bidders for Tanaka. “Involved” is not quite as strong.

Involved, you’d expect, would at least include a bid – depending on how the posting system shakes out (we still don’t know what it will look like, or when it will open up; in theory, it could come any day) – but it’s hard to know at this point what kind of bid it’s going to take to actually land the rights to negotiate with Tanaka. As I’ve said before, given the rising free agent market prices, the posting price on Tanaka is likely to exceed that of Yu Darvish two years ago ($51.7 million), even if Darvish was probably the superior pitcher at the time of the post.

Even if the Cubs were set on aggressively pursuing Tanaka, they would find a significant rival in the Yankees. Given the Yankees’ surplus cash, pitching needs, and desire to get under the luxury tax cap (posting price does not count against the cap), an enormous bid on Tanaka makes sense. Indeed, sources tell Jeff Passan that the Yankees plan to be “bold” in their bid for Tanaka. Whether a ploy to scare other teams into a lower blind bid or into a ridiculous, crippling, over-the-top bid, we can’t be sure. But a huge bid exceeding the $75 million range (execs tell Passan they expect the winning bid to top that figure) is to be expected. And that’s to say nothing of some other surprising team stepping up with a huge bid. Oh, plus the Dodgers. Always the Dodgers.

So, if the Cubs are going to be “involved in the process” of trying to secure Tanaka’s rights, it’s clearly going to take a massive bid – and a massive commitment from ownership – to make that happen.

(A related aside: at the season ticket holder event yesterday, while explaining why the Cubs are approaching the rebuild as they are, Theo Epstein mentioned that there is no free agent market for young, impact players in their prime. Paraphrase: “If there were a market full of 25-year-old, impact talents, our job would be easy. We’d just target the ones we wanted, spend a whole lot of money, and get them all.” I immediately chuckled to myself, thinking about Tanaka.)

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

204 responses to “Jed Hoyer on Masahiro Tanaka: “We’re Going to Be Involved in the Process””

  1. Die hard

    Olt for Span?

  2. Eternal Pessimist

    I’m feeling exceedingly pessimistic about the Cubs chances of landing Tanaka. I the Yanks spend money on “regular” free agents it counts against the cap with huge penalties. They will figure those penalties into whomever they need to sign, making them willing to overpay a lot more for Tanaka than the Cubs will. Plus, regardless of how much they are paying for broken/old players now, they have way more bank than the Cubs…this prospect nursery better bear fruit!

    1. Brains

      yeah, honestly i just don’t see the cubs ever signing any impact player ever under current ownership. the money isn’t there for whatever reason, he’s risk-averse, and baseball contracts are always gambles. it’s very likely that we’re seeing a cultural transition to a mid-market mentality that’s permanent, in which the team will do well financially in part because the team no longer invests revenues in long-term contracts with impact players. european austerity in chicago.

      1. Greenroom

        We’re doomed. We will never make it.

        Ever? Come on man, you can be as disappointed all you want with the current situation, but that is just so far over the top.

        Lighten up. Go have a beer. peace~

        1. Brains

          i’m serious. the free agent class is awful for the next 3 years after this year. if we don’t sign someone this year it’s not clear that we’ll even have players that we want in the future. in year 3 there’s a few more, but next year in particular stinks.

          we’ll learn a lot about what’s in store in the next couple months. if we don’t sign an impact player, we never will. we’ll be playing things conservative like kansas city. we all know their track record.

          1. Turn Two

            A.) This sounds like a bunch of sour grapes…i want my championship and i want it now kindergarten mentality.

            B.) Who knows who will be good in 2-3 years impact free agents could emerge.

            1. Kyle

              You’d be surprised how long you can lie to kindergarteners and tell them you’re going to Disneyland later. Just keep pushing it back every time it gets close. They suck at reading calendars anyway.

              1. YourResidentJag


  3. Eric

    Oh Kyle, that’s just your fancy way of saying you’re making shit up.

    1. Kyle


  4. waffle

    I’d give the cubbies about a 4% chance of landing Tanaka.

  5. Deacon

    That seems about right. Like I said in my other post, how does Epstein combine “at the right price” and the need to “be aggressive” in the same sentence? I’m going to aggressively make a bid that I have no chance of accepting? Is it like being the first guy to raise his paddle at an auction and then ducking out for a restroom break when things get serious?

  6. Mike F

    Well a couple of things. First, when you buy a Japanese player, there is not a question on undeveloped nations and birth records being messed with. You know exactly what your are getting. Second, if you notice he is 25. Third, remind me who it was that went to Henry and convinced him to throw money, a 142 M on a 30 year old Carl Crawford. Third, the Cubs can spend a lot of money if they want, only the weak minded continue to insist Ricketts is a member of the little sisters of the poor. Finally, Theo is a bright guy and a GM, deception, misleading and misdirection always goes hand in hand with good ones.

    Or the negative can continue to piss on everything he does and insist that the Cubs are abusing fans. Here’s a news flash find someone else to root for, spend your money on and flower your attention on, it will be like voting with your time and dollars. I think your wrong, it’s more like life where lots is always happening black and white are harder to find, but if all the haters are right, you are also just as stupid as all of the rest of us for wasting your superior understanding on the organization that is so flawed.

    1. Drew7

      “only the weak minded continue to insist Ricketts is a member of the little sisters of the poor.”

      C’mon, Mike.

      I’m not sure what I believe about the Ricketts’ financial situation, but there’s plenty of evidence pointing to a very finite amount of money being available to spend on the ML-roster. To call people who believe this evidence “weak-minded” is taking the easy way out of a fair (albeit a bit played-out) debate.

    2. Jim L

      “Third, remind me who it was that went to Henry and convinced him to throw money, a 142 M on a 30 year old Carl Crawford.”

      Larry Lucchino.

  7. Mike F

    No, it was Theo. Henry said it was Theo and everyone in the Boston media said it was Theo. I understand the unique nature of we Cub fans to always embrace extreme pessimism, but some of this ridiculous. Theo always has had a record of spending. And indeed, he already has bellied up to the bar on Jackson and only gave up on Sanchez when i was clear no matter what they paid, Detroit would one up them.

    As to the evidence, Chicago is one of the largest markets in the country. Ricketts has repeatedly Theo will have the resources he needs and will get what he asks for. People act like something out of the exorcist. Lock stock and barrel it is accepted that Renteria was the 2nd fiddle to JG. i believe he was Tom’s second choice, but probably not Theo’s. So what isn’t questioned by anyone is Ricketts was willing to make JG the highest paid manager in baseball. And in fact it was repeatedly common knowledge believed 25-30M. Again fact gets in the way of those who wish to believe Ricketts is broke and mean and taking the poor fans money deceptively.

    I don’t get why it is crime to not be either an apologist or be talked to like a dog as if your an imbecile by flamers who want to say the Cubs are innate evil incarnate. Somewhere there is moderation and reason, but increasingly the arbiters of that seem to be a very lazy Chicago media…..

  8. Dean

    The only way the Cubs get Tanaka is if Tom stops by his dad’s office and asks for a little extra cash.

    1. cubes

      wouldn’t be the first time… wish my dad would buy me a baseball team.

      also the fact that the posting fee doesn’t count against salary; I consider that a Loophole… given the FO’s Love of Loopholes we should be landing Tanaka all day.

  9. Wi Jeff

    75 million toward tanaka or 75 million toward purchasing rooftop buildings and ending the snarky litigation?

  10. Bill

    If the cubs are serious about pursuing Tanaka they are going to need to bid 100 million to have a chance to outbid the Yankees and dodgers.

  11. Joycedaddy

    Sounds like Hoyer’s polite way of saying “Tanaka will not be a Cub.”

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      It reads like the Yankees are impolitely saying “Tanaka will not be a [not-Yankee].” I suspect that austerity is over for the Yanks.

      1. Luke

        That doesn’t mean the Yankees will have the highest bid (assuming the blind posting process doesn’t change). The Yankees won’t drop more than they think they have to. If the Yankees guess wrong and someone bids more, all the extra dollars the Yankees can come up with won’t help them one bit.

        There seems to be this thinking that the Yankees will automatically outbid anyone, and I’m sure they would if they had the chance. But they may not get that chance. If they guess that $95 million will land Tanaka’s rights and Anaheim swoops in with $100 million, then it flatly doesn’t matter that the Yankees might have an extra $150 million laying around that they wish they could have spent.

        Having the money to spend helps any team going after Tanaka, but it doesn’t guarantee them anything.

        Unless the posting process changes, that is.

  12. The GM Meetings Begin Tomorrow | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] meatiest part of the offseason begins. Of course, it’s possible that one small thing – like Masahiro Tanaka’s posting process not yet getting underway – could hold everything else up in a waterfall style for weeks. You just never know. Tweet […]

  13. cubes

    “The prior poster wanted us to spend this winter. As “spending” applies almost exclusively towards free agents,”

    spending does not relegate to only FA… players are currency. also you can add payroll though trades… often times it is the driving force.

    one point that was missed is that we are A BIG MARKET team we get penalized like one. we are top 5 in NET WORTH… yet we are acting like a lower mid market team…
    anyone who thinks we can either invest in the future OR invest in the present is wrong. you can invest in the present and the future at the same time.

    1. Brains

      i tried saying this for a while but they only listen if you talk about their dad

  14. waffle

    it would be great to get Tanaka, but realistically? For this team now? I’d be shocked. And I don’t think that means our FO are a bunch of 1) idiots 2) cheapskates 3) masochists.

    And no, I don’t think that just confirms that I am drinking the Theo cool aid. But that probably won’t prevent a choice few of you from going there anyway.

  15. Jed Hoyer Says It Again: No, Seriously, the Cubs Will Be In On Masahiro Tanaka | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer last week told Dave Kaplan that the Cubs would be “involved in the process” of Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka, should he be posted by his team in Japan, there was necessarily a certain level of circumspection. […]

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