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masahiro tanakaYou knew this was coming, right? As soon as Masahiro Tanaka was officially posted, and so long as the Cubs remain involved, this became an Obsessive Watch. Let’s be honest: it has been for weeks already. And it could be right up until the 4pm, January 24 deadline for him to sign.

  • Although we touched on it previously, with the holiday, it bears noting again: Dave Kaplan reports, via a MLB source, that the Cubs “will not be outbid on Tanaka.” Kaplan and his source made sure to note that, even if it’s true that the Cubs will be the top bidder, there is no guarantee that the Cubs will get him – they’ve still got to sell him on the team and the city of Chicago. But the mere fact that this is getting out there is notable, and it’s not hard to see the rumor originating with the Cubs. Unlike a secret bidding process where you wouldn’t want any of your competitors to know the level of your interest, in the highest of high profile free agencies like this, it doesn’t necessarily hurt you in the same way to have the world believing that they shouldn’t even bother offering huge dollars – because, no matter what, you’re going to top it.
  • Is that how things will actually play out? I’ve gotta be honest, I have my doubts. It’s not hard to see the Tanaka bidding approaching seven years and $140 million, which is an extremely risky investment for even the richest teams. Tanaka’s age makes you much more optimistic on a deal like that, but still. After years of being led to believe that the Cubs don’t have the money for nine figure deals right now, are they suddenly going to come up with the money to nab Tanaka? And, if they do, are there going to be draconian financial repercussions for the rest of the roster in the next year or two?
  • Speaking of the rest of the roster, Bruce Levine points out what everyone is thinking when it comes to the Cubs and Tanaka: there might be a Jeff Samardzija connection here. No, it isn’t the either-or situation that folks feared (and Jed Hoyer explicitly denied) – instead, Levine implies that landing Tanaka could shift the paradigm of discussions between the Cubs and Samardzija. Given Samardzija’s recent comments about wanting the Cubs to demonstrate a desire to compete in the nearer term before he agrees to an extension, there’s a lot of plausibility here. (For my part, I’m not sure I see a reason to connect one to the other, even in this way – if the Cubs land 25-year-old Tanaka on a, say, seven-year deal, I can still see plausible reasons to trade 29-year-old Samardzija for early-20s prospects. I know that’s horrible to say, and I do still believe a reasonable extension is the best outcome. I’m just saying, you don’t rule out a trade just because Tanaka comes along. He, alone, doesn’t make this team a winner in the next year or two.)
  • The big “news” early in the process is that Tanaka has reportedly selected Casey Close as his agent. Close, among many, many other players, apparently represents big-time Dodgers starters Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (as well as Yankees star Derek Jeter). Some offer that as an indication that Tanaka is already leaning toward signing with the Dodgers (or the Yankees), though I’m really not sure how strongly this cuts in any direction. On the one hand, when a guy is coming from another country, I could see the familiarity/connections being a factor in where he ultimately lands, should the money be the same. On the other hand, with free agency looming after next season for Kershaw, couldn’t you make the argument that Close has an incentive to maximize the dollars to his clients by getting the Dodgers to pony up a massive extension for Kershaw while getting Tanaka’s huge deal elsewhere? Shrug. In the the end, I make it that the presence of Close probably doesn’t matter (his job is to get the right deal for his client, regardless), but the selection of Close in the first place … it’s a possible indicator. I guess we’ll just keep our eyes on things.
  • Incidentally, the Dodgers aren’t yet ready to publicly commit to being involved in the Tanaka process, for whatever that’s worth.
  • Don’t expect to hear about the Cubs, or any other team, formally making their $20 million maximum bid for Tanaka. Mark Feinsand reports that’s not necessary – the team signing Tanaka simply has to be prepared to pay the money when the contract is signed. Instead, I’m guessing what we’ll hear is Tanaka making visits to various cities/teams over the course of the next month.
  • Phil Oddo

    I think they will both come up in September

    • jon

      Soler hasn’t even mastered high A yet

      • http://www.hookersorcake.com hookersorcake

        Soler is already on the 40 man and is a 22yr old getting paid. Had he not gotten hurt he’d probably be ahead of Baez in terms of ready for MLB. Plus he did pretty good at high A and in Arizona Fall while hurt/rehabbing. If he looks healthy and tears it up in Spring training he could start at AA. And if all goes well it wouldn’t be crazy to see a cup of coffee when rosters expand.

        • Bluz Cluz

          I think it’s pretty much set for Soler to start at AA. I think over the course of the year, we’ll see a few guys, Baez, Szczur, Ha, Bryant, Olt, Vitters, make appearances, and then by September, the Cubs will start flooding the roster with youngsters.

          • Bluz Cluz

            I forgot to mention So let.

            • Bluz Cluz

              Soler

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    The Cubs and Houston are less threatening than LA, NY, Boston, Texas etc… So, maybe they let the Cubs Astro types fight it out.

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    Mike Beller comment from 4/13: Darvish’s 4.9 WAR means he provided the Rangers with nearly five more wins than they would have registered if a replacement player had occupied Darvish’s spot all season. To put that number in context, Fangraphs defines a superstar player as someone with a WAR between five and six. Verlander posted a 7 WAR, followed by Hernandez at 5.9, Clayton Kershaw at 5.4 and Gio Gonzalez at five. They were the only pitchers in the league more valuable to their teams, from a WAR standpoint, than Darvish. If you placed an emphasis on WAR when ranking players — and what better way to measure a player than by how many wins he brings to his team? — then chances are you enjoyed a near perfect game out of Darvish this week.

  • Phil Oddo

    Fine Soler probably won’t come up this year but i think Bryant will

  • Voice of Reason

    If Kaplan is reporting that the cubs will not be outbid we should all expect the cubs to be outbid.

    Dave Kaplan is not a credible source.

    • Wester

      Link?

      • YourResidentJag

        Tweet but not in agreement with the so-called “Voice of Reason” mind you: David Kaplan ‏@thekapman 24 Dec
        I just spoke w/an MLB source who believes Cubs will not be outbid on Tanaka. He also said convincing Tanaka to come to Chgo will be hard.

        • Voice of Reason

          Did you read the story on top you pin head? The story that says kaplan was told my mlb source that cubs will not be outbid.

          I wonder how u get by in life.

          • baldtaxguy

            He’s stating the same. He just disagrees with your assertion that Kaplan is wrong 100% of the time and that the exact opposite of his reporting should be considered true.

  • JB

    Wouldn’t it be bad business for a player to have an agent that represents players on the same team especially when it comes to the same position?

    I would assume, maybe falsely, that the Dodgers will not be able to hold on to Kershaw, Grienke and this new phenom from across the lake. If I were the agent, I would make salary demands all at the same time to drive up the price for my client, because that is what he is supposed to do, make more money for the client. However, by doing that, wouldn’t one of the players potential get left out? Would the agent work for more for the team instead of the player to see if he could get two of the three studs signed?

    I can understand theory of him having a great working relationship with the teams, but is that good for the player that his agent has a good relationship? The team doesn’t higher the agent, the players make that decision. Working with a bad agent can cost you money I would think, but an agent who is in bed with ownership could cost you as well.

  • Blackhawks1963

    it will be interesting to see how fast Casey Close and Tanaka move on getting him signed to his new team.

  • CubsFaninMS

    Overpaying for Tanaka is not be the worst thing on earth. A Major League baseball team, even on a financial basis, has so many moving parts. If you overpay with him and we get good production (value) from other players, then it all evens itself out in the end. Who can argue that Schierholtz, Valbuena, or Wood were not worth more than their value last year? In fact, can you name a player other than Jackson and Castro who did not earn their contract for the Cubs in 2013? You could have an argument for Rizzo, but his season was approaching “solid” status. You win some, you lose some. At some point you have to jump into the deep end of the pool and hope it pans out. There’s always a chance that there will be a floating Baby Ruth candy bar in the deep end of the pool.

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