masahiro tanakaAs we await the Rakuten Golden Eagles’ official decision on whether to post 25-year-old Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka, we can certainly put to bed any doubt on where he stands on the issue.

“I informed my team that I would like them to allow me to test my abilities in Major League Baseball next season,” Tanaka said early this morning (well, our time) at a press conference, per ESPN, after a meeting with Rakuten’s president, Yozo Tachibana.

That’s pretty black and white, and now Rakuten faces the following choice: allow Tanaka, their best player, to go for $20 million (a very healthy sum, relatively speaking); or hold onto him and face the possibility that he’s an incredibly pissed off pitcher all season long. Hell, Tanaka didn’t even provide them an out for 2015, given that he added “next season” to his request. He wants to come to MLB right now.

Not to sound like a broken record, but I still can’t see any way they actually hold him back, especially now that he’s publicly said he wants to come to the States. We will see Tanaka posted, and it could come as soon as later today.

  • macpete22

    Masahiro Tanaka is Chicago bound!

  • Dan

    I listened to the Basball Prospectus podcast this morning and they had on a writer from the Japan Times, Jason Coskrey. Was an interesting interview. He basically said that Rakuten promised Tananka before the season that they would post him if he wanted, and it would be completely unprecedented if they went back on their word. He seemed 100% confident that they would post him, and he expected if to happen within the next couple of days.

    • Edwin

      I’m sure before the season Rakuten thought they’d be getting a much larger posting fee.

      • Dan

        Without a doubt, but he still made it seem like a forgone conclusion that he would be posted.

  • Jon

    From a pure scouting perspective, is there anything to give us assurances that this guy is closer to Yu than “Dice K” ?

    • MichiganGoat

      Dice-K was a stud until he got injured, so if he’s a heathy version of either we should be very happy.

      • Noah_I

        Yeah, Dice-K suffered from two distinct issues. The first is injuries, as has been stated, and those are unpredictable for anyone. Second, Dice-K was overhyped. Even in his two healthy systems he was more a very good 2 or a fringe 1 than a true ace. Hopefully Tanaka will not be overhyped and whatever team adds him says something along the lines of: the ability to add a 25 year old pitcher with a solid history of durability to the middle of our rotation without giving up any prospects only comes along once every few years, and we felt considering the factors Tanaka was well worth the value.

        One other advantage the Cubs have: since they likely won’t be contending this season, they can ease Tanaka in to pitching every 5 days instead of every 7 by giving him a turn in the rotation off every month or so.

        • MichiganGoat

          In 2008 he had an ERA+ of 160 it’s not Kershaw’s 194 but it is definitely Ace material. Then he got injured and never recovered.

    • Cizzle

      I’ll take 9.4 WAR in his first 2 seasons. It’s the $35M for -.2 WAR since that’s a little troubling.

    • BenRoethig

      There are no assurances to anything. Freak things happen. Like Michigan goat said, Dice-K was pitching Cy Young caliber all until he got hurt. The only thing you can go on is information and based on that, Tanaka has as good a chance to succeed as anyone. He could he a bust like Kosuke or get hurt right away like Fujikawa. Of course that could also happen with free agents in MLB.

  • Rebuilding

    Since 1900, pitchers with 14+ decisions, WL% less than .400, ERA+ at least 140
    Rk Player W-L% ERA+ ERA IP GS W L Year Age Tm Lg
    1 Darold Knowles .125 174 2.04 119.1 0 2 14 1970 28 WSA AL
    2 Jim Willoughby .200 141 2.82 99.0 0 3 12 1976 27 BOS AL
    3 Ned Garvin .238 159 1.72 193.2 24 5 16 1904 30 TOT ML
    4 Lee Smith .286 229 1.65 103.1 0 4 10 1983 25 CHC NL
    5 Jim Abbott .318 144 2.77 211.0 29 7 15 1992 24 CAL AL
    6 Luis Ayala .333 169 2.69 90.1 0 6 12 2004 26 MON NL
    7 Mark Davis .333 171 2.01 98.1 0 5 10 1988 27 SDP NL
    8 Nolan Ryan .333 142 2.76 211.2 34 8 16 1987 40 HOU NL
    9 Bryn Smith .353 145 2.49 155.1 12 6 11 1983 27 MON NL
    10 Joe Magrane .357 161 2.18 165.1 24 5 9 1988 23 STL NL
    11 Ernie Camacho .357 170 2.43 100.0 0 5 9 1984 29 CLE AL
    12 Sparky Lyle .357 147 2.51 82.1 0 5 9 1973 28 NYY AL
    13 Ned Garvin .357 150 2.41 246.1 28 10 18 1900 26 CHC NL
    14 Marty Pattin .364 142 2.49 141.0 15 8 14 1976 33 KCR AL
    15 Hal Newhouser .364 162 2.45 183.2 23 8 14 1942 21 DET AL
    16 Ken Sanders .368 182 1.91 136.1 0 7 12 1971 29 MIL AL
    17 Jack Taylor .370 142 2.55 222.1 26 10 17 1900 26 CHC NL
    18 Rube Waddell .381 153 2.37 208.2 22 8 13 1900 23 PIT NL
    19 Brian Bohanon .389 154 2.67 151.2 18 7 11 1998 29 TOT NL

    • C. Steadman


    • Pat

      So, 19 individual seasons over 113 years. Doesn’t seem like its an issue very often.

      • Rebuilding

        That’s what you took from that list? I could also post all of the pitchers with an ERA+ of 120 with losing records, but Brett doesn’t have the bandwidth

        • Pat

          I don’t recall even asking about individual seasons (I would have thought there were more at that level). If that is your argument, then yes, you can tell much from won loss record in a single season.

          • Pat


        • MichiganGoat

          It’s pointless to keep debating this topic, there are hundreds of articles that show why the W is a horrible stat and Pat will continue to believe in it’s worth.

          • bbmoney

            The whole, winning is what’s important arguement is frustrating.

            Obviously, team Wins are all that matters. But player performance is what gets you team wins, and pitcher Wins have some correlation to pitcher performance, but not really all that much, and certainly not as much as their underlying stats.

            Let’s just leave it there. If people want to ignore that, that’s on them.

            • hansman

              NO WE MUST BANISH THE WIN STAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111!!!!1!!!!11

              • bbmoney

                I see.

                • hansman

                  Ya, but I’m not fanatical about it…

              • wilbur

                Sure lets abolish the win stat, and at the end of the season the teams can all draw straws to see who gets the trophy.

                And if wins above losses (WAL) then WAR should be too. becasue wins aren’t relevant and not controllable by a given player. And if not controllable by an actual given player, there is no way a hypothetically derived replacemnt player can ever control anything, since he in fact doenst even exist. It’s like in lake woebegon, where all the replacement players are above average. Except of course weehn it turns out they all are below average. Then you are using war to compare an actual player based on wins above someone you will never win with at all. This would be a paradox if wasn’t mostly meaningless to begin with. Using a replacement player as an index is fine, using wins as the metric for your derived index is circular at best.

                • Brett

                  You are conflating game outcomes (wins and losses) with the win/loss pitching stat. They are not the same thing.

                • bbmoney

                  Look what you did Hansman.

                  I blame you and your continued use of capitals, exclamation points, and ones for this.

                  • hansman

                    I SHOULD BE HUNG WITH A LONG ROPE FROM A SHORT TREE!!!!!!1!1!!!!111!!!1!!!!!1!!!

      • ETS
      • hansman

        A 140 ERA+ is fairly epic.

        • Noah_I

          This. At the extremes, yes, the very best pitchers in baseball are likely to have good win-loss records because they are the very best pitchers in baseball. But win loss record won’t tell you anything about a pitcher with an ERA+ of 140 or above that his other, more meaningful statistics won’t tell you.

          The issue with looking at wins and losses comes when you are looking at two pitchers, whom we will call A and B. Both have been healthy and thrown near or more than 200 innings per season for the past 3 seasons. Over those three seasons, Pitcher A has an ERA+ of 105. Unfortunately for him, he has been playing for a losing team with a bad offense, and has a win loss percentage of .460 over that time period. Over the same time period, Pitcher B has an ERA+ of 95, but has been playing for a team that has been a playoff contender in 2 of those 3 seasons and has a good offense. His win loss record is .550. In that case, the win-loss record is just noise that tells you how good the team is, not how good the pitcher is.

          Even if you put A and B on the same team, you can end up with these issues, particularly over a 1 season sample size based upon the run support the pitcher happens to get on days he starts, and how good the bullpen happens to pitch on the days he starts.

  • J.L.

    “I informed my team that I would like them to allow me to take my talents to the North Side of Chicago.”

  • Edwin

    Obviously Tanaka wants to be posted, but how do things look from the Team’s perspective? How much is Tanaka worth to them? If his surplus value to Rakuten exceeds $20MM, then I think it’s possible they don’t post him. They have other options.

  • David

    I wish we would have gotton Addison Reed from the stinky Sox, instead of the DBacks. Controllable/ proven guy for 4 years do not grow on trees. I bet we could’ve put together a lot better package than Ariz. He was a starter a few years back, perhaps he’ll return as a starter in few years, making his value even more.

    • bbmoney

      Addison Reed is largely fungible. A flyball pitcher who gave up very few HRs last year. If he is truly skilled at that he’ll likely be good, but I doubt he’ll see a HR/FB rate like 2013 again or at least not consistently.

      I would have been pissed if the Cubs had traded something more valuable than what the D-Backs gave up for Addison Reed.

    • Dumpgobbler

      If they would have done a Christian Villanueva for Addison Reed deal I would done that. I doubt they would have though. Davidson has been a pretty good prospect.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      You have that trade backwards: it’s Davidson that would look good as a Cub, not Reed. The DBacks just made a(nother) really dumb trade. Davidson looks to be a 20 HR 0.350 OBP 3Bman: and that is worth a heck of a lot more than a reliever is.

      As for the fact that Reed *was* a starter, almost all relievers are failed starters. He’s a reliever because he’s a pitch short of being able to start. Moreover, he has thrown all of 133 innings in MLB, and although Reed has done well in those innings, that gives us very little on which to predict his future.

      The DBacks never cease to puzzle me.

      • CubFan Paul

        The DBacks have gotten fleeced on all their deals lately.

        Davidson, Bauer, & Upton

        • Noah_I

          The DBacks care far too much about personalities and far too little about talent.

      • Spriggs

        Yes, this is really really crazy. D’Backs are indeed a puzzling organization.

  • E

    Maybe I’m paranoid, but I’m not liking all of the write-ups about the Cubs and Tanaka that I’m seeing this morning. I’d rather us remain in stealth mode.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Whether a team is in stealth mode or not has no bearing on where a guy signs. This is not like a trade involving a guy with an NTC, where premature announcement of the trade could affect his decision. The usual suspects will be in on Tanaka, and the write-ups for all of them have begun. It’s not like he’s going to say: “well, I don’t mind that there was advanced buzz with the Yanks, but it really pissed me off for the Cubs, Sox, Dodgers, Phils, Rangers, Braves and Angels. If one of them had kept quiet, then I would have signed with one of them instead.”

  • Zachary

    Almost evey team that is seriously involved will match the cubs offer and tanaka will go to a contender the cubs would seriously have to overpay

    • cms0101

      They’re going to have to sell him on the role he’ll play as a leader on an up and coming young team. That’s on top of matching or exceeding every other offer he receives.

  • Spoda17

    He may not get posted…

    Per ESPN:

    Tanaka, a 25-year-old right-hander, went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League during the regular season. He will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season and can move to MLB only if the Eagles agree to post him.

    The Eagles, who won the Japan Series, voted against the new posting agreement in balloting by Japan’s 12 teams on Monday and say they want Tanaka to remain with them for next season.

    “We told him he is very important to us and we’d like him to stay,” Tachibana said.

  • woody

    Wake me up when this Tanaka thing is over. I wonder what the odds would be in Vegas that we land him? 100 to 1 ?

    • Brett

      I’d go about 4 to 1.

      • wilbur

        4 to 1 I’d take that bet. I think they are going to try and land him. I think it is a high risk move though and think the Maeda signing may be a better risk reward move for the cubs.

        But maybe they will get both, if it turns out with all the new rules, the cba, the international free agent, the international draft that may be next, the new posting rules for japan free agents, if all those add up to make this a good move for the cubs rebuilding then fine. But this isn’t the same to me as the Darvish signing at all. I have a feeling it may be more fukudome than ichiro.

        One good thing, Idon’t think the pacific rim geographical advantage is as big a factor for japanese players anymore. So Seattle and LA may not have an inside ttrack like in days past. It was real and was due in part to time zones and flight routes as much as local jaanese populations. So the cubs have that going for them.

        The best thing about this route for gettting a pitcher, is don’t have to give up a prospect to get a pitcher, yet.

      • Mayhem

        4 to 1? LOL now that’s extreme homerism. I would love to have Tanaka, but let’s try to be even slightly realistic here. The Cubs won’t even be 4 to 1 against the Yankees alone and if the Yankees decide to bust the cap it will be more like 20 to 1 against one team. Then you can add the Dodgers at 3 to 1 plus the Angels, Phillies, Red Sox, Rangers, and pretty much any one else who needs a number one starter for nothing but cash and I can’t even fathom how you can consider 4 to 1 as realistic. NO TEAM would be a 4 to 1 and there would be at least 3 teams for sure that would have better odds than the Cubs.

        If you thought the BN board was getting nasty so far, just wait until Tanaka gets posted and news slowly starts leaking that we were in fourth place. There will be madness the likes of BN has never seen and no amount of registration will stop it. The odds on that will be 100%.

        On the flip side, if we somehow snag Tanaka, we can consider the offseason a smashing success, even with all the negative war minor league signings.

        • Brett

          A 25% chance to land their clear top target after spending no money whatsoever so far this year is “extreme homerism”? 25%?

          That’s a 75% chance that they don’t get him. Yup. Extreme homerism there. LOL!

          • hansman

            Well, duh. There is a 197% chance the Cubs don’t get him.

          • Mayhem

            Well we each have our own opinion, but I would have to believe you are way off. If the Cubs are going against one team such as the Yankees alone then 75% chance they miss is reasonable, but against the whole MLB field? That’s stretching your literary license to the max!

            Looking at the odds scientifically from ONLY the Cubs perspective is the equivalent of being in the “Cubbie Bubble.” There are 29 other teams out there that want Tanaka just as badly as the Cubs do. Several teams that can outspend the Cubs by a wide margin and a whole lot of teams with Playoff or World Series aspirations that want a number one pitcher for nothing but money right now, not in somewhere sometime unknown future such as the Cubs. And as we are seeing this offseason, there are teams that are willing to MASSIVELY OVERPAY in dollars and years to get the talent to win right now.

            Add in the fact with money being equal, which I have a hard time believing the Cubs will be in the top three, why would Tanaka want to come over from Japan just to play on one of the worst teams in the MLB? He is coming to play and be a star in USA for his country and fans in Japan…plus money Please don’t tell me the Cubs are going to sell him on the number 5 farm system and some unknown future as an attraction. I just don’t see it.

            I entirely expect one team to come out an make a stupid offer the Cubs likely won’t and can’t match and the hordes of FO supporters to say that it was wise not to match that contract Which I am not against, but it is what I predict is going to happen. The best thing to do in Tanaka’s case is to hope for the best and expect the worst.

        • TK

          Your odds are likely a bit off. Tanaka, ALL things considering, is actually more likely to want to play on the West Coast. He’s gonna get paid, wherever he plays. And on top of his salary, he’ll surely see a jump in other income, like endorsements. The x-factor is his personal preference. For a 25 y/o married to a JPop star, who is likely to begin a family during the period of the contract he signs, LA (or as close as poss) is the no-brainer choice. Good for him to play. Good for his wife to further her career (here in US) and the closest/easiest port of entry/departure to travel back and forth for her to make appearances.

          NY may not even be the 2nd most likely. Seattle. Texas. Even Detroit could have very significant appeal to him.

          Its easy for s to forget that we’re talking about PEOPLE — not just characters on a screen. We always want to reduce every thing to averages, percentages, and $$$$. He will be able to choose from every corner of the US. And most big market offers are likely to be reasonably competitive, relatively — he does have an agent to work that matter. It will most likely come own to where he WANTS to be. My bet is all on the West Coast.

          The Cubs would have to make one heck of an offer. Its not impossible. But they would be wise to play to his wife, on top of the big $$$$.

      • hansman

        I wonder if the Choo signing is, potentially held up by Tanaka.

        Could it be that the Cubs told Boras where they are now, but if they can add Tanaka they’d be at Now + $X? Their Now amount might be close enough, and Boras might feel comfortable enough with the other teams involved, to cause Boras to wait it out for a few million more.

        It would seem a little backwards but if you think you have a stronger chance for contention, they might be willing to spend a couple extra bucks.

        • commander bob


    • North Side Irish

      No worse than 30-1

      • commander bob

        i would have to realistically say zero chance. Mooney is correct here. The cubs simply arent in spending mode.

  • Michael

    I would rather the cubs not spend 9 figures on a pitcher who has never pitched a major league game in his life lol

  • You got bats, we got Wood. Travis Wood.

    I have a hunch that Tanaka ends up a Mariner or a Dodger. I think the Cubs financial restraints and the Mariners/Dodgers/Yankees spending escapades makes us lose out on his services.