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masahiro tanakaThe Masahiro Tanaka posting drama could threaten my once annual off-day of the year …

Despite confused reports to the contrary last week, the Rakuten Golden Eagles remain publicly undecided on whether they will make their 25-year-old ace available to MLB teams for a posting price of $20 million. That could change this week, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, who reports that a decision could finally be revealed on Tuesday or Wednesday (Christmas Eve or Christmas Day). Because of various travel and appearance commitments for Tanaka, the expectation is that he’ll meet with Rakuten on those days to finalize a decision, one way or the other, and word will then come out.

For his part, Tanaka has publicly expressed a desire to come to the States to pitch in MLB now. Rakuten controls his rights through the 2015 season, and doesn’t have to honor his request. The team could elect instead to keep Tanaka, increasing his salary to try and soften what would be understandable frustration at missing out on a nine-figure payday. Then, Rakuten could try to post Tanaka next offseason, hoping that his performance/health over the 2014 season would still dictate the $20 million maximum posting fee.

I’m still betting Tanaka is ultimately posted, and, if he is, the market for free agent starting pitchers will start to clarify a bit. Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ervin Santana remain the three biggest names on the market, but teams have been in a holding pattern on them, pending the Tanaka outcome. Further, possible trade targets like David Price and Jeff Samardzija are also up in the air during the pendency of the Tanaka stuff.

The Cubs are generally accepted as one of the leading suitors for Tanaka, though the legitimacy of the Cubs’ pursuit – given the financial situation – is debated by many. There’s a part of me that wants to see Tanaka posted solely so we can find out if the Cubs are able to put their money where (we believe) their mouth is.

  • Darth Ivy

    Maybe that’s an indication they won’t post him. When unpopular news is released, it tends to come when people aren’t paying much attention

    But I’ve always thought the Eagles would post him. I still do. I mean, c’mon

    • JB88

      While I tend to agree with dumping bad news on the media on Fridays/holidays, it is hard to know whether that is what is happening here because: (a) this is Japanese news, first and foremost, and I don’t know that many of us know whether the Japanese follow the “bad news dump” traditions of the US; and (b) whether this is announced on Christmas Eve/Christmas, the ramifications will exist and continue to be discussed far beyond those two days.

      • Darth Ivy

        I completely agree with all that.

      • BenRoethig

        Thing about that, the 24/25th aren’t holidays over there. It’d be just the middle of the week. It would only be a bad news dump here.

        • Darth Ivy

          Well, it wouldn’t be bad news in japan. Only for American baseball fans who want Tanaka on their team

      • Diamondrock

        Having lived/worked in Japan for a number of years I can confirm that there’s nothing particularly special about Christmas in Japan. It’s a regular work day for almost everybody. New Year’s is the big holiday in Japan.

        • Darth Ivy

          I don’t think the japanese would see this as bad news in the first place

    • Caryatid62

      It likely wouldn’t be all that unpopular to fans of Rakuten.

      • Darth Ivy

        I’m sure Golden Eagles fans want him to stay.

        • JB88

          But the implications are far beyond what the Golden Eagles/their fans want. There is the impact on the rest of the league from a competitive standpoint. There is the impact on the rest of Japanese players who want to be posted and their team refuses. There is the impact on the future of the posting system and Japanese players seeking to sign with an MLB team prior to joining the NPB.

          • Darth Ivy

            good point. I wonder how long this posting agreement is for

            • HCS

              I believe it’s only 3 years, although I am frequently less than correct.

          • caryatid62

            The point was more a counterargument for the initial point that stated that the team would be “dumping bad news” on Christmas eve. In fact, it wouldn’t likely be a news dump, as fans of the team that is making the news would find it to be a good thing.

            • Darth Ivy

              “fans of the team that is making the news would find it to be a good thing.”

              duh.

            • Darth Ivy

              The golden eagles aren’t worried about this being bad news in Japan. 1) it’s good news for their fans. 2) even though their rivals might want him to be posted, they probably don’t care about their rivals’ fans.

              But maybe the American teams might want to limit the hurt of their fans from this news which could lead them to ask the gold eagles to release the news when it has the least amount of impact.

              I understand people like to counter argument just to counter arguments. I’m not saying this has to be the case. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. But I could see it possibly being true

              • Caryatid62

                There really isn’t any reason why American baseball teams would have the ability or desire to tell a Japanese team when or how to release information to the public. There’s also no reason for Rakuten to release information on a schedule that allows American teams to manage a story that doesn’t really require management anyway. That’s not how it works.

  • C. Steadman

    “There’s a part of me that wants to see Tanaka posted solely so we can find out if the Cubs are able to put their money where (we believe) their mouth is.”

    I have never looked at the Tanaka situation like that, but I think I am now…i agree that this could be an indicator of the financial situation but not one to put huge weight in(depending on if the winning contract is outrageous…like pushing 200M or over)

  • cking6178

    Agree 100% with the last sentence….IF he posts, it will give us a much better understanding where “we” stand financially…And whether or not what we have been fed has just been lip service…I tend to believe that Theo/Jed will have the capital to be major players for Tanaka, but then again I’m a Cub fan and optimism runs in my blood…

  • CubFan Paul

    “find out if the Cubs are able to put their money where (we believe) their mouth is”

    If the payroll can stay at $105Mish, the posting fee and Tanaka’s first year salary could still fit (backloaded deal).

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Would t even need to be backloaded. With a payroll of $75M, the Cubs have $55M left to spend this offseason. Tanaka should be less than 1/2 of that.

  • Rebuilding

    I’ve said all along I thought he would be posted and he would be a Cub. Them wanting to put the news out right over Christmas is my first pause on that feeling. And honestly, the more I look at it the better I think it would be for the Cubs if he was posted next year. The amount we have committed to payroll next year drops steeply again with Soriano coming off the books plus we might have the new revenues coming online and we can start to see where some of the prospects project. Them waiting a year wouldn’t be a bad thing for us

    • Hee Seop Chode

      New revenues are online this year – $25MM of new tv money + whatever new tv money is derived from the WGN games.

      • hansman

        WGN money isn’t coming until 2015 season.

      • Rebuilding

        We do have the new national money coming in this year. WGN portion of local next year. The point still stands that we will have a much lower payroll and more revenues coming online going into 2015

  • X The Cubs Fan

    Predictions: Garza to the Nats, Santana to the Blue Jays, Santana to the Angels, Burnett to the O’s or retirement.

    • DarthHater

      Sounds like Santana’s gonna be busy…

      • Edwin

        It’s a new timeshare style of contract. The BlueJays get him on Tues, Thurs, Sat, and the Angels get him on Mon, Wed, Fri. They trade off every other Sun.

    • X The Cubs Fan

      Jiminez to the Angels sorry.

  • Rodrick

    I do not believe that we should sign a Japanese player because I do not believe that they are ready to make 20 million dollars. That money is better spent by the owners who know how to spend 20 million dollars. The American baseball is also much better than in Japanese baseball and I think he will be overpaid and will not win.

    • Edwin

      They should give me the $20MM. I’m ready for it.

      • DarthHater

        Send it my way. I would invest it in important infrastructure, like the Death Star.

        • Darth Ivy

          good idea

          • Cheese Chad

            Was that a diehard comment? Reveal yourself!

            • Darth Ivy

              There is only Darth Ivy

        • Edwin

          Maybe spend a bit extra to cover up that hole this time. Some better safety features as well.

          • chrisfchi

            Paint it to look like a moon, that will fool the rebels.

            • Danimal8

              That’s no moon…

      • Rodrick

        Are you an owner?

  • LTJ

    Tanaka signing would send a message to its fans to say we are in it to win it. He would be a drawing card to the ball park. It may also send a message to the Shark that the Cubs want to win it all and thus would be an encouragement to the Shark to sign an extension with the Cubs. It could be possible to have Tanaka, Edwards, Shark, Woods and Johnson for the starting 5. Merry Christmas Cubs Nation and may we all receive a Tanaka on our team.

    • Noah_I

      If I could have one thing for Christmas, it would be for no one to ever refer to Jeff Samardzija as “the Shark” again. Shark I can live with. “The Shark,” however, is just too much.

      Going to the merits of your argument, though, the issue in the discussions between the Cubs and Samardzija are solely about money, not commitment to winning. The Cubs would like to enter into a contract similar to what Matt Harrison received a couple of years back when he was at the same stage of arbitration Samardzija is at now (5 years/$55 million). Samardzija wants to be paid significantly more, with the lower end probably being something like the deal Anibal Sanchez got from the Tigers last year (5 years/$80 million). Considering Samardzija’s age (he turn 29 a month from today), this will likely be his one shot at a big contract. Considering that I don’t think Samardzija will get traded this offseason with the Cubs’ asking price, there are five scenarios that don’t include Samardzija either getting hurt or falling off a cliff (statistically speaking) : (1) Samardzija takes the next step and becomes a consistent 2 or better in a good rotation, so the Cubs are able to get their asking price in a trade and trade him in the next 12 months or so; (2) Samardzija takes the same next step, and the Cubs raise the amount they are willing to give him in an extension and come to a deal; (3) Samardzija remains what he is, someone who is immensely talented at times but inconsistent, reduces his demands and an extension is signed; (4) Samardzija remains what he is, the Cubs reduce their demands in a trade, and Samardzija is traded sometime between July 2014 and July 2015; or (5) Samardzija remains what he is, the Cubs and Samardzija both don’t reduce their demands, Samardzija remains with the Cubs through arbitration and then leaves in free agency after 2015.

      If I’m weighting those scenarios (and not including the chance of him getting seriously injured or losing the strike zone entirely or something like that), 4 is the most likely by far (I’d give that something like a 60% chance of occurring), followed by 5, then 2, then 1, then 3.

  • OregonCubsFan

    Looks like we will be hoping for a Ground Hogs Day present this year instead of a Christmas present.

  • cub2014

    i was all for adding a couple legit big league hitters
    and then get Tanaka. but at this point why do it?
    He comes at a high price tag and he would have to
    be considered unproven. Especially for the type of
    money they will be talking about.

    let sign a couple of vet pitchers, maybe find a flip
    or two and forget about 2014.

    2013 was washed up vet tryouts.
    2014 will be rookie auditions.

  • Dave

    He’s 25 why not sign him so for when the team is competitive?

    • BenRoethig

      Exactly, plus it creates good will for the organization.

  • cub2014

    whats driving me drazy this off season
    is that I think the Pirates and Reds will
    be down from last year. So there was
    an opportunity to possibly sneak in
    there.

    hopefully we can make a trade to get
    Brown from Philly he is available (they
    wanted to add a starter and a reliever:
    Russell & Jackson?)

  • Darth Ivy

    Why did I show up for work today? This is such bullshit. I could be sleeping right now, having nice dreams about playing left field for the Cubs (yes, this was actually a recent dream even though I am/was a middle infielder)

  • Durbin

    If Tanaka does not agree to a contract to stay in Japan he will want to be posted this year. If he is not posted until next year there will be potential for a lot of great pitching options available in the 2015 free agent year. I think Tanaka would get more money this than he would next year. The question is what would be better for the Cubs? I think the best scenario for the cubs would be Tanaka not signing to stay in Japan but Rakutan not posting him until next year. Cubs may go all in next year to get pitching. They could get an ace next year and a number 2/3 type starter.

    However, Tanaka may be viewed as a more valuable piece because you would not lose your number 1 draft pick. Cubs wouldn’t have to worry about this more than likely but the rest of MLB may covet Tanaka more because of that.

    • Noah_I

      If you’re looking two seasons ahead, it always looks like there will be a lot of great pitching options that will be available on the free agent market. By the end of the 2015 season, though, almost all, if not all, of the best options will have been signed to extensions, and you’ll be left with the Ervin Santanas and Matt Garzas of the world as options. Good pitchers, but mid-rotation types.

      The problems with waiting for Tanaka are: (1) pitcher health is always tenuous, and a shoulder injury between now and then would vastly decrease his value; and (2) he’ll be 28 at the start of any contract instead of 26. A big part of the appeal with Tanaka is that the signing team should be getting him for all of his prime with essentially none of the contract being outside of the prime years. That equation changes somewhat if he signs two years later, even though pitcher aging curves are not as predictable as hitter aging curves.

  • TommyK

    I do not and will not buy the “can’t afford it” excuse. I get the Cubs can’t spend like they used to, but from what I can tell the Cubs could spend another $30 million next year just to reach league average payroll (including what’s owed Soriano). I don’t buy that they can’t afford league average payroll. I don’t think Tanaka’s getting $30 million a year. The Cubs should get this done. If they go into next season with a payroll less than $60 million, no one should attend a single game. There is no excuse for that. (If I’m wrong about the numbees, please correct me.

    • cub2014

      you are pretty close on the numbers w/o adding
      in soriano & dejesus our payroll would be around
      60mil.

      • Edwin

        I think the Cubs payroll should wind up in the $70MM-$80MM range, once you account for arbitration raises.

      • TommyK

        I didn’t think we were paying DeJesus.

        • cub2014

          no the Rays are paying Dejesus (my bad)
          But I think we are paying Soriano 14mil in
          2014.

          I think payroll is 60mil + Soriano 14mil +
          arb 6mil = 80mil.

          • TommyK

            Baseball Prospectus has the Cubs payroll at about $55 milliin including Soriano. That does not include players eligible for arbitration.

            • cub2014

              Wow that is pretty ridiculous if that number is correct.

              • C. Steadman

                its not as ridiculous as it sounds bc the Cubs do have some notable players up for arbitration…(Shark, Wood, Nate, Barney, Russell, Valbuena, Murphy and Strop…projected 19.6M per mlbtraderumors.com)

                • TommyK

                  So that would mean, after arbitration, the payroll would be around $75 million ($14 million going to someone not on the team.) The league average payroll in 2013 was about $106 million. There should be pleanty of room to sign Tanaka and stay under league average. Anyone know the league median payrooll, since the obscenely high payrolls may make the average misleading.

  • TommyK

    If Rizzo and Castro don’t rebound, could the 2014 Cubs rival the worst Cubs teams ever? I don’t think the pitching will be that bad, but where are the runs coming from? This team could lose 110 games.

    • Noah_I

      I doubt it. Remember, the 2013 Cubs underperformed their Pythagorean record by several games, which is a mixture of timing and dumb luck (how bad the bullpen was early in the year for a team that will need the bullpen to win several close games). Does losing Soriano, DeJesus and Navarro equal 20 to 25 extra losses? This will not be a good team, but it won’t be historically awful either.

      I’m also curious to see how the Cubs will handle Baez if he puts up numbers in the PCL similar to what he did in the Southern League. There’s no way Baez is up before the end of June (they’ll wait until he wouldn’t be a Super 2), but if he’s just not being challenged in the PCL, he could be called up. He could (notice the could, it’s always a question with prospects) be a significant pretty immediate improvement to the line up. This won’t be a good team without a lot of luck. But it shouldn’t be historically awful. With that said, I think the current run of historically awful teams is done. The Astros made enough improvements to at least come close to losing less than 100 games. The Marlins are significantly better than they were on Opening Day 2013. This is a Cubs team that could lose 100 games or so, if things break wrong and they have bad luck, and that could be bad enough for the number 1 pick. It’s also a Cubs team that could play .500 ball or a little above if things break right and they have some good luck.

      But no, I don’t see this as a 110 loss team. This team will not be worse than the 2012 team.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Also, the 2013 Cubs were a lot better than the 2012 Cubs, particularly in terms of raw numbers. They actually were better than the 2011 Cubs: for all of peoples complaining, a team that was bad and and getting worse in 2011 truly got worse for only one more year.

        So, no, the 2014 Cubs won’t be worse than the 2012 Cubs *unless* there are some pretty hellacious injuries. There is a good chance that they’ll be better than last year’s team (at least for raw numbers), and that could make them a borderline 0.500 team. (They won’t be competitive because the Reds and Cardinals will be much better than that; the Pirates might be, too, although they were a bit of a smoke and mirror team last year.)

    • 1060Ivy

      From the MLB roster perspective – the 2014 Cubs have lost Garza, Feldman, Gregg, Marmol, Fujikawa, Soriano, DeJesus, Clevenger from the 2013 squad and added Ott, Strop, Ruggiano, …

      The Cubs were supposedly statistical better than their Win Loss record in 2013 but I don’t know if the changes in the MLB roster necessarily makes them 14 games worse in 2013.

      From a roster perspective, nothing makes me believe that the 2014 Cubs aren’t a 100 loss team.

      • cub2014

        Well you can throw out Gregg & Marmol the bullpen
        is better. Clevenger & Dejesus werent a great loss
        based on their numbers.

        But I agree that Soriano & and one of those starters
        so far havent been replaced.

        The counter argument could easily be that Castro &
        Rizzo are going to be better and Castillo & Lake
        continue to develop. Then a young starter progresses
        to the next level but if all that happens you are still
        at best a .500 team.

        • Rodrick

          I believe that the Cubs do not deserve to have players like Soriano until we have paid for having bad owners before our current owners who will win when they want to win. We will replace Soriano with a minor leaguer who is good when he is ready to play or we will draft more players until they are ready to play and then the team will win.

        • willis

          It’s a 100ish loss roster. There are marginal to AAAA players all across the diamond and a decent but not great pitching staff. They will get clobbered in the division and just are a bad team. 59-103 is my prediction. Most likely they will get that precious 1st pick they want so dearly.

          • cub2014

            if they end up with 100 losses. The rebuild is in
            trouble, because the second half of this year
            our roster we will be loaded with our young
            players; (castro,rizzo,castillo,lake,baez,alcantera,
            bryant,olt,hendricks,wood,shark,arrieta,rondon,
            vizcaino,strop and it goes on…..) so if we are
            that bad in the 2nd half LOOKOUT

            • willis

              Even if/when they come up, there will be plenty of growing pains. It’ll be interesting to see the vegas line for the over/under in wins. I’m guessing it lands around 66.

        • TommyK

          I agree that, if Casteo and Rizzo improve and a few other things break right, the Cubs could approach .500. To me, that would be a huge triumph. If they don’t get better, I don’t see where the runs come from.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    What’s to stop Tanaka from agreeing to pay his own club (Eagles), say, $10m over the life of his eventual US contract to secure his posting?

  • http://BN Sacko

    For what little we have left that will start the season, 2 positions in the out field, 3 infielders, starting pitching and relief could all get traded again. Yes this could be a very very bad year.

  • Rodrick

    I believe that the Cubs will win 84 games next year. Having Matt Garza was like losing 15 games a year already. Subtract 15 games and we will have new players from the minor leagues which means we will be better than last year and we will win. We do not need to sign free agents because players already play for the cubs in the minor leagues and those players are good so the team will be good this year and win a lot of games.

    • C. Steadman

      “Having Matt Garza was like losing 15 games a year already”

      do you mean Marmol? Matt Garza was pretty valuable to the Cubs…being rumored to be a bad teammate isnt going to cost you wins, especially if you pitch good when you’re on the field

      • C. Steadman

        disregard my post…didnt read your entire post so i didnt catch the negative sarcasm until now…

        • Rodrick

          No I do not like Matt Garza. We should promote from within and not trade or sign players who make the team lose.

          • DarthHater

            I do not like him when he pitches.
            I do not like him when he bitches.

            I would not pay him lots of money.
            I would not feed him a jar of honey.

            I do not like Matt Garza and bread.
            I do not like them, Theo and Jed.

            • wvcubsfan

              Outstanding!!

            • kscubfan

              Having just read the new Dr Seuss books my son got for Christmas this was going on in my head as well. Nicely done.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            If you think Matt Garza is a -15 swing in the standings, then you have very little understanding of the game on multiple fronts.

            I actually was sort of hoping that the Cubs might re-sign Garza, but he’s clearly demanding way too many years for someone with his injury history. Sure, that history is the same for everyone, but one of the teams snakebit by it will be less apt to sign him.

            • DarthHater

              “you have very little understanding of the game on multiple fronts.”

              It’s a successful multiple front strategy!

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