Obsessive Tanaka Watch: Cubs’ Bidding, Samardzija Connection, the Agent

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.

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

138 responses to “Obsessive Tanaka Watch: Cubs’ Bidding, Samardzija Connection, the Agent”

  1. ed

    We need this guy worse than any of those teams. Pony up Ricketts!

    1. gocatsgo2003

      As the post points out, the money may not be the deciding factor here. We could very well offer him the longest contract and the most dollars, but have him accept an offer from a different team.

    2. Short Bus ridin'

      This is purely for S’s and G’s but I’d be all for this!!

      Bobby Bonilla~esque to the extreme?!?

      Well, the Chicago Cubs have indeed got their man with a very “creative?” selling technique… While deferring a good portion of salary for future front office leaders to deal with. ( Picture Theo w/ evil shit eating grin on his face! )

      Tanaka signs w/ the Chicago Cubs on an eight year contract, and he will receive a total of $214M!
      He will receive an annual avg. of 18M per season over the 8 yr. commitment (moderately backloaded), totaling $144M over the 8 yr. time span. To seal the deal, without adding his regime any extra burden, Epstein is adding an extra $70M to the end of the deal to be paid out at 3.5M annually for 20 years… DONE DEAL!!!

  2. sm57co

    Won’t it just be the Cubs luck to outbid everyone but lose him to LA because his wife is an actress. Come on Cubs, land this guy. Somehow.

  3. E

    I’d rather the Cubs FO just hush up and get it done. If they ultimately fail, I don’t want anything to look back on and cause me suspicion.

    1. mjhurdle

      If the Cubs don’t land Tanaka, people will look back with suspicion no matter what happens.
      If they talk about signing him and fail, then it was all just a show to win a “participation trophy” (see all the posts that have already come out to say this is what the Cubs are doing).
      If they don’t say anything, then it will be assumed they don’t have the money and Ricketts is cheap.
      Or if they don’t sign him for whatever reason, there will be plenty of reasoning as to why that was the right move.
      People tend to look back on things like this through their own preconceived notion, whatever those may be. What the Cubs do or don’t do probably won’t change that much.

      1. YourResidentJag

        But those preconceived notions could extend really to anything this FO does as perceived good or bad.

        1. mjhurdle

          i agree.
          Most everyone projects at least a little of their notions into how they view the front office moves. Some do it more than others, while some try to play all sides by predicting everything vaguely enough that, no matter what happens, they can come back and say they were right all along.
          It is an unfortunate by-product of the losing. I look forward to a time where the talk will be more about what the Cubs have done than what they might do and how that reflects on the manager/GM/President/Owner.

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      This does beg the question, what would give you cause for “suspicion”? What was suspicious about other FA signings?

      1. aaronb

        The lack of significant additions has been suspicious. As has the crying of poverty and the half decade as one of the worst teams in baseball.

  4. Jon

    David Kaplan “99% chance Szmardjia is traded this offseason “

    1. Carew

      Thats old

      1. DarthHater

        I don’t think Jon was trying to break news. He was suggesting that Kaplan’s opinions are questionable.

        1. Carew

          My fault

    2. Chad

      As always, the 99% guess leaves that 1% for a miraculous turn of events. I take most of what anyone says involving rumors with a large grain of salt until deals/trades are officially announced

    3. Jason P

      Generally, when anything is reported as “99% likely to happen”, it doesn’t happen.

  5. Blackhawks1963

    Modified prediction based on latest news, to include newly hired agent and Mrs Tanaka.

    Yankees – 75%
    Dodgers – 25%
    Cubs and everybody else, regardless of money and recruitment pitch – 0%

    1. ClevelandCubsFan

      You and Voice, man. 75%? Are you insane or trolling? 28 teams have a combined chance of 0% of signing him? Be cateful in Vegas.

      1. DarthHater

        “Are you insane or trolling?”

        Does it have to be one or the other? :-P

  6. ClevelandCubsFan

    $20m is nothing like the $50-70m MLB clubs were expecting to post. In the past that posting fee had a significant impact on salary. Will 20 figure in a similar way? Is Tanaka a 7/140 guy who will take 7/120? How much impact will the fee have?

  7. miggy80

    I read the rumors but Tanaka just doesn’t sound like a Theo and Co. signing. There is so much hype right now for Tanaka and it is pushing his perceived value through the roof. Doesn’t seem like FO’s style.

    Okay here’s where I get all conspiracy theory on you. Let’s just say that the Cubs won’t get out bid. I think they (the FO) will drive the price up for Tanaka to sign with NYY, LAD, or teamX knowing that Tanaka doesn’t want to be in Chicago. Thus increasing the value of Shark. Now it gets tricky, then they flip Sharks newly perceived value in the trade market for a haul. If that don’t work out they pony up and pay Shark for extension at the end of next year, but still less than what Tanaka signs for this year.

    1. ChicagoMike702

      Re your first paragraph: I know what you mean, the FO likes to look for value BUT Theo also signed Dice-K, Lackey and Crawford. I’m not convinced the Cubs have the $ for Tanaka, which is frustrating, but I don’t think Theo would be against it.

      1. miggy80

        Good point, and then I read Darth Ivy comment below and that starting 5 looks dam good. Maybe I’m just getting myself psyched up for when he signs else where.

  8. Darth Ivy

    From what I hear, getting Tanaka would make it more likely that the cubs keep/extend samardzija. With samardzija, Tanaka, wood, jackson, fill-in-the-blank, that’s a good enough rotation. Then, they just have to get some bats up from the minors, fill in a hole or two via trade and or free agency, and bingo. Tanaka could quickly accelerate their competitive ETA

  9. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    Is Tanaka going to get a lot of pressure to take the biggest deal to set a precedent under the new agreement with Japan?

    Just a thought I had…..

    1. mjhurdle

      that is a good question. I never thought about him feeling pressure to go to the highest bidder to set the precedent and keep future contracts for NPB players high.

      1. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

        The larger point is there are a ton of variables we just don’t have answers to now to really have a good sense of who’s the lead dog. We have what is reported and what we think but we don’t know a ton in relation to Tanaka/ect.

        1. noisesquared

          This. I have not yet read anything from Tanaka’s camp to indicate any preference he has one way or another. Maybe he’s all about money. Maybe he’s all about winning. Maybe he likes to be the celebrity. Maybe he’d prefer to be in a less media-intensive environment. I don’t know – all that’s been reported and discussed is speculation.

  10. CubFan Paul

    Yankees – They’re bluffing. Staying under $189M for 2014 is more important

    Dodgers – They already have 6 bonafied starters

    Cubs – They have the most payroll room available for $15M-$20M AAV

    Diamondbacks – Already at payroll limit. Samardzija still likely after Tanaka signs elsewhere

    Angels – They need pitching just as much as the Cubs but Skaggs & Santiago helps them save impact dollars for the Trout extension

    Mariners – Already at payroll limit. Samardzija still likely after Tanaka signs elsewhere

    Red Sox – Already have 6 starters with Webster, but do need to get younger beyond 2014

    Rangers – Already at payroll limit & are saying they’re out on Tanaka

    Others – F’n mystery teams

    1. gocatsgo2003

      Are “impact dollars” worth more than real dollars?

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      The Braves will almost certainly be players: they are a solid team, and another solid starter would make them a very solid team.

      1. CubFan Paul

        The Braves don’t have the payroll room this year and definitely not going forward because of commitments.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          The Braves should have payroll space, and they need to make up for the loss of Hudson.

          1. CubFan Paul

            According to the GM and calculations by the beatwriters they don’t.

            Now Samardzija? There’s room to add his $5M ’14 salary and an opportunity to recoup some prospect value July ’15, if an extension isn’t worked out.

            With their new stadium, samardzija could be perfect for the Braves as far as Samardzija’s payday lining up with theirs.

            1. ClevelandCubsFan

              Good points… If we can find a match.

  11. Drew

    Can the Japanese teams force the posted player to pay a portion of their contract back to the team? ie: Starlin Castro’s situation?

    Just a thought as to the Rakutan Eagle’s seeming to flip / flop recently on their decision to post Tanaka. “We are disappointed in the $20 million posting fee. Therefore if you wish for us to fulfill your desire to be posted, you will pay us 3% of whatever contract you sign”

    1. DarthHater

      Before the posting announcement, there were some reports that Rakuten might be trying to get Tanaka to agree to that kind of kick-back arrangement.

    2. Pat

      The Japanese team can’t force him to do anything. But, yes, they could offer such a deal as a condition of agreeing to post him this year.

      1. hansman

        No they couldn’t. Based on the agreement they get up to $20th as compensation and that’s it. Anything else would be, probably, against the agreement.

  12. Blackhawks1963

    The great debate is going to come when we find out Theo matched or exceeded the contract offer Tanaka ultimately accepts with the Yankees or Dodgers. Then the pitchfork crowd as well as the Kool Aid crowd will each have to sit back and truly reflect. The pitchfork crowd will realize the Cubs are trying to compete but that there are no shortcuts to the Theo building strategy no matter how painful that is to accept. The Kool Aid crowd will have it finally dawn on them that some players have zero interest in the Cubs right now because we are an ugly work in process, and guess what not everyone gets excited over the “sales pitch” of being “the guy” who helps us win a World Series after a century of futility.

    1. mjhurdle

      or option C:
      Tanaka signs with someone, anyone, other than the Yankees or the Dodgers and then the crowd of one that has been arrogantly belittling anyone for assuming that Tanaka might sign with someone besides the Dodgers/Yankees has to resort to posting under other names to make it seem like there is more than one of them.

      No matter what happens, it should be fun. :)

    2. Canadian Cubs Fan

      Yeah, that whole sales pitch about first WS in a million years ( at least it feels that way) might work on a kid that grew up with MLB in his blood, but a young Japanese pitcher? Not likely a factor.

      1. D.G.Lang

        There is one other factor which might be somewhat interesting if true.

        A few years ago I read that the Cubs had more wins throughout their history than any other professional club in any other sport.

        If this is/was true, it would be based upon their earlier history when they were very good and respectable for several years combined with their longevity as a major league club going back to the earliest days.

        The Cubs do have a great history from the distant past and it looks like they finally have owners who want to replicate that history again.

        There is some cause to be proud of being a Cub.

        1. MaxM1908

          We are second behind the Giants. The Dodgers and Cardinals are right on our heels, so we can’t have too many more down seasons without getting overtaken.


  13. Lou Brock

    Dodgers value Kershaw much more than signing Tanaka. There is not enough money in their budget to sign both to long term deals. The agent already knows this and will not make the Dodgers uncomfortable. He will try and get Kershaw the biggest contract in the history of baseball for a pitcher, upwards of $ 275-300 million. If Tanaka signs elsewhere, this puts all the pressure on the Dodgers to pony up and not let Kershaw leave.
    Their are rumblings from Kershaw that he may want to play in Texas after this year and the Dodgers are very afraid of losing him.

    1. Blackhawks1963

      With all due respect that’s a load of hoey. The Dodgers have an $8 billion dollar tv contract and the last thing they will ever do is let Kershaw leave. He’s the greatest pitcher in franchise history after Sandy Koufax, which is really saying something given their rich history. The Dodgers will take their payroll to $250 mil a season in a blink of an eye if they they can rip off a few World Series titles in a row.

      1. Lou Brock

        Maybe you misunderstood my post. I’m saying the Dodgers are willing to pony up on Kershaw, and that is how Close, his agent is going to play this.
        He will not want money that can go in Kershaw’s pocket given to Tanaka. Rather he will steer Tanaka elsewhere so the Dodger money stays with Kershaw and Grienke, another client of his.

        1. aaronb

          Why the hell would an agent do that? “Hey you client X…..take less money from this team. Cause I want client Y to get more money from the team that is offering you the most.”

          That would be a complete conflict of interest and likely grounds to get an agent disbarred from the MLBPA.

          1. half_full_beer_mug

            How bad out of context does one have to read LB’s post out of context to arrive at that insane scenario?

            1. aaronb

              How else do you take: “I’m saying the Dodgers are willing to pony up on Kershaw, and that is how Close, his agent is going to play this.
              He will not want money that can go in Kershaw’s pocket given to Tanaka. Rather he will steer Tanaka elsewhere so the Dodger money stays with Kershaw”


              1. half_full_beer_mug

                Steer does not mean take less money. Half of the thread was how he’s going to go to LA for less money than the Cubs will offer.

              2. mjhurdle

                where in that does LB says that the Dodgers will offer the most money and yet Tanaka’s agent will make him take less money elsewhere?

                I read that as there will be many competitive offers for Tanaka, and Tanaka’s agent will attempt to make the Yankees/Rangers/Cubs/MysteryTeam give the highest offer so that the Dodgers still have plenty of money for his other two clients; not that the Dodgers will beat all offers by 20 million, but the agent will tell him to sign somewhere else for less….

          2. Patrick W.

            Try again. The notion is the agent will steer his client to a large offer from a different team for one client knowing that will also maximize the contract for another client. It means “Tanaka-san, you should take the Cubs offer because it is more than the Dodgers offer and it will be a great situation for you” and “Dodgers, you didn’t sign Tanaka so you have plenty of money for Clayton”. Instead of “Tanaka-san, I know you want to live in LA so take this slightly lower contract with the Dodgers” and “Clayton, the Dodgers can’t afford you now so you have one less bidder on your contract”.

            That’s a legitimate point of view and is plausible.

  14. Fastball

    Offer that dude $1.00 and $145MM in achievable incentives as your opening bid. Then when Theo knows he isn’t getting him he can start pissing of the Yankees. Cashman and he are old adversaries. If he can’t beat him he can sure cost him a lot of $$$ to win. Sometimes you can take solice in the fact that your arch enemy just overpaid out the ass to get what he wanted. Then Tanaka won’t amount to shit and we can all take a breather.

    1. gocatsgo2003

      … and proceed to have Tanaka and his agents laugh in your face.

    2. Jon

      The Cubs and Yankees are not enemies, rivals, or anything of that nature

      1. Coop

        True, but of course that was not what Fastball said, so this nonsequitur is meaningless to the conversation. Thanks for playing.

        1. Jon

          The Yankees aren’t in the Cubs division so Theo doesn’t give a shit about what Cashman does nor should he. There is no personal rivalry either

  15. Lou Brown

    Read on MLB Trade Rumors that Tanaka threw 160 pitches in a recent start. Is that kind of workload normal over there? That would be so Cubs: win the bidding and sign Tanaka to a massive contract, and then have him need TJS in Spring training, ultimately coming back 5 mph slower and never pitching effectively. I am getting Fujikawa terrors…

    1. gocatsgo2003

      Yes it is pretty normal for Japanese pitchers to throw more than in the States.

    2. cubfanincardinalland

      What was truly amazing, he came back the next night in the deciding game for the championship, and closed the game out in the 9th inning, protecting a one run lead. The manager stated he was very scared to do it, but Tanaka told him give me the ball.

  16. Spoda17

    I will be honest, I do want Tanaka, but I do not want to grossly overpay. Id rather have 3 above average players we need and pay for them, then pay one guy that is not proven in MLB. I am starting to lean I’d almost pass on this…

    1. josh ruiter

      Bro…quality over quantity…We need studs to win big…especially pitching…look at the perennially good clubs of late.
      Cardinals – pitching never ceases to arise from St. Louis. They nearly always have someone in the cy young voting and a couple top line guys almost always.
      Red Sox of 2000s – Schilling and Beckett carried that team
      D-backs of 01 – Johnson and Schilling carried that team
      Giants….always – SP carries that team
      despite the Tigers prolific offense…Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, Fister, SP!!
      Yankees of the dominant 90s – 2000s – you remember the sluggers but Clemens, Moose, Pettite, Wells, even Coney – they were pitching heavy!
      The Phillies – Lee, Halladay, Hamels – SP – this year when those guys were subpar the team fell off!
      The Marlins when they were good – SP
      The Cubs even during the early 2000s – Woody, Prior, Big Z – SP
      One thing IMO is certain…you need quality over quantity in the rotation – everybody has a slew of 4/5 types but the teams who have a top tier guy and two others who are respected #2s generally win the most ball games.
      For us Tanaka can be one had cheaply….Maybe Shark is a 2nd or maybe he is traded for a guy who could be that…mix that in with the hope of one guy from our system being that and you have a very good, fairly young rotation!

      1. Steve

        Josh–I agree 100% concerning your thoughts that teams must have excellent starting pitching staffs to complete for a World Series championship. If not for injuries and other assorted occurrences having Prior, Zambrano, and Wood in our starting pitching staff should have kept the Cubs in playoff mix for at least 7-9-years!!! That’s why I still don’t think our Cubs 1st round draft selection was correct. Bryant may turn out to be an excellent major league player, but FO had the chance to select one the best collegiate pitching prospects and they chose not too. Let’s hope in 2014 a top pitcher is chosen.

  17. Kyle

    There’s something interesting in people and teams finding a 2nd-round pick to be an onerous compensation, but a $20m check is NBD.

    1. cubfanincardinalland

      I don’t think the allure is not losing a draft pick, it is that he is 25 years old. You just don’t get quality starting pitchers on the free agent market when they are that young.

    2. gocatsgo2003

      The difference is in the context — the only thing that a $20MM check does is come out of the baseball budget or an owner’s pocket while sacrificing a pick decreases a predetermined amount of pool money.

  18. N.E. Cub Fan

    If memory serves me correctly, back in 1984 or 1985 then Cubs GM Dallas Green offered free agent Steve Garvey the most money of any bidding teams. Garvey chose the Padres because he wanted to stay on the West coast. Green commented that we offered the most lucrative contract, but I can’t change geography. The same might hold true for the upcoming Tanaka saga.

    1. David

      Really?? Never knew that. I hate Garvey. Perhaps we would have won the 84 world series if that deal is made??? The Cubs of 1984 was the best team never to win a playoff series.

      1. David

        Assuming it was before the 84 season… of course.

      2. DocPeterWimsey

        Yes, it is true that the Cubs almost signed Garvey before the 1983 season.

        However, the rest of reality (or alternate reality!) is very different. Garvey put up a .284/.307/.373 line during the regular season. That’s right: a 0.680 OPS out of the first baseman. Durham put up a .279/.369/.505 line. That’s about a 3 game difference right there. The Cubs won the division by what became a comfortable 6 games, but it actually was very tight until the end: and there would have been a much greater chance of the Cubs not even making the playoffs if Garvey had been at first instead of Durham.

        As for the Cubs being the best team to not win the playoffs, that also isn’t close to being true. The ’84 Cubs actually were not a great team: they had only a +-0.027 OPS, but they wound up winning 11 games more than typical for a team with that performance. The Cubs won in big part because of the other futility of the Phillies: the defending NL champs actually put up better numbers than they did in 1983, but won only 81 games instead of the projected 95. Remember this year’s Cubs’ futility, in which they lost 10 more games than they should have given their net OPS? The Phils topped (or bottomed) that by 4! Only 5 other teams in the last 50+ years (’62 Mets, ’65 Sox, ’73 Braves, ’93 Mets and ’94 Pads) have underachieved by more than the 1984 Phils did.

        At any rate, there have been numerous teams since then that played superior ball to the 1984 Cubs and lost immediately in playoffs. The 2008 Cubs are among them, as are the 2006 Padres. (I name the Padres only because of the Garvey connection.)

        1. DarthHater

          Yea, from 1983 thru 1987, Durham provided 8.9 fWAR, while Garvey provided 1.6 fWAR. In 1984 alone, it was 3.5 versus 0.3.

        2. David

          If I remember right, I think the 84 cubs had 5 guys with 80+ RBI that year. That’s huge. Big Red Sutcliffe was the best pitcher of the year. And they had the Daily Double. And Harry Carry.

          1. David

            6 guys with 80+!!!

            1. David

              I know I’m a dork cause I am replying to my own posts…. The 84 cubs had 6 guys with 80+ RBI. The World Series winners in the past three years have had 3, 1 and 2. Interesting.

              1. woody

                Don’t worry David I often carry on a conversation with myself.

                1. David

                  The mighty 2009 World series champion Yankees had 7 guys with 80+ RBI!!!!!!!! Only one more than our 1984 cubbies!!!!

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    Murderer’s row plus Cano

            2. DocPeterWimsey

              The 1984 Cubs had a “plus” lineup 1-7 with good OBP and good slugging, but really great sluggers. So, that meant a lot of RBI opportunities and a lot of guys who had good chances of splitting the gaps and driving someone home.

              (Bowa was a black-hole in the 8 spot.)

              Unfortunately, Dernier was a 1-year wonder, Cey and Matthews were in decline, and Durham & Davis were peaking. Combine that with the entire good (but not spectacular) starting rotation going down in 1985, and the general failure of tauted prospects like Tony Wood, and the ’84 Cubs were a 1-year thing.

              That written, I still think that a Cubs-Tigers WS in 1984 would have been spectacular.

      3. Zach

        I believe the title of best team to not win a playoff series (or even reach the playoffs) belongs to the 1969 Chicago Cubs.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          No, that would be the 1993 Giants (103 wins, no post-season). The 1978 Orioles (100 wins, no post-season) are up there. The 1985 Mets were a formidable team (98 victories, great net OPS) and missed.

          The 1969 Cubs are in the “don’t forget them” when you discuss these teams, but they aren’t the top.

          1. Short Bus ridin'

            Different circumstances but don’t forget the strike shafted ’94 Expos! (Pretty sure it was ’94) that was a helluva squad.

        2. DarthHater

          Be real. The 1969 Cubs are my favorite team ever, but I still don’t think they are anywhere close to the best team not to reach the post-season. For example, the 1954 Yankees (with Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Yogi Berra) won 103 games but finished 8 games behind the Indians. In 1961, the Tigers (with Norm Cash, Rocky Colavito, Jim Bunning, and Frank Lary) won 101 games, but finished 8 games behind the Yankees. In more modern times, the 1993 Giants (led by Barry Bonds, Matt Williams, and two 20-game winners) won 103 games and lost there division to the Braves. In contrast, the 1969 Cubs won 92 games and finished 8 games behind a Mets teams that had very little offensive pop and relied mostly on great pitching.

          1. DarthHater

            *their division* (dammit!) :-P

          2. DocPeterWimsey

            The 1969 Mets team also was a huge over-achieving team: they won 15 more games than you would expect given their peripherals. The 1970 Mets team actually put up better numbers than the 1969 team: but they lost 5 more games than expected! (We just saw something very similar with the 2012 and 2013 Orioles.)

            And they can still all die like pigs in hell…..

          3. Zach

            Yeah, I guess you’re right. Still love ‘em anyway.

            1. Zach

              The Cubs that is.

            2. DocPeterWimsey

              Well, they still belong in the conversation about “best teams to not make post-season.” It has become a very anachronistic conversation, however: it would be very tough to win 92 and miss post-season now.

              (Of course, the 1969 Cubs were so awful in September that they would have been out in the first round easily: but there is a world of difference between making and missing post-season.)

        3. mjhurdle

          You are all wrong.
          The best team to miss the playoffs was the 1906 New York Giants!!! :)

  19. TommyK

    In terms of the Cubs spending, I don’t think the relevant numbers are the years or total dollars. I think in the limitation is on total payroll for the next couple of years. In other words, its not that they can’t afford to give a $140 million contract; its that they can’t afford to have $140 million payroll in 2014. However, given the Cubs current payroll, they could spend $20 million next year on Tanaka and still have a payroll around the league median (including Soriano money). Assuming the Cubs aren’t planning on doing anything super expensive this offseason, they should be able to commit at least $20 million to Tananka next season and still have room to sign Jeff S to a reasonable extension. So I believe the reports that they won’t be outbid. If they don’t get Tanaka, I will be disappointed no matter what. I will be angry if they don’t get him and the deal he gets is not outrageously high.

  20. woody

    I share the opinion that Samardzija would come to terms if we land Tanaka. This is critical IMO because if we lose Tanaka then maybe Shark doesn’t sign and then we flip him for prospects. If that happens you can kiss 2015 goodbye also. We sign Tanaka and keep Shark and get a few of these prospects some playing time and we could be tough in 2015. With that rotation and the improved bull pen we could have a a shot at a wild card if Rizzo and Castro bounce back and Lake has a breakout season. I know you ask what am I drinking or smoking right? A guy can dream can’t he?

    1. willis

      Well it’s not that crazy to think about. The rotation would be very good and the pen is upgraded for sure. If the offense could score 3-4 runs a game, that’s a chance at a whole lot of wins. I do agree with you that getting someone like Tanaka in the fold could make the cubs much more attractive to Shark. He’ll still want more than $11 mil a year, but he may have much more of a desire to stick around to be a part of a very good rotation.

  21. willis

    I don’t believe he will end up with the cubs. But the rotation sets up so nicely if a miracle happens and he does. That puts Arrieta as your #5 starter with a 96ish mph fast ball and nasty breaking stuff. I’d say that’s the stuff teams can build around. Those arms and the bullpen…keeps the cubs in damn near every game. It’s an amazingly happy thought…

    1. YourResidentJag

      Well, the Cubs could throw out there Feldman and Wood types from last year and still be in a lot of ballgames until the trade deadline. That’s really not the problem. The problem is with the offense and the regression that Wood could show this year to some degree. Tanaka is vital to the Cubs future plans because he’s vital to their postseason plans, being that the postseason is a completely different animal that the regular season in terms of a teams SP.

    2. Jason P

      Tanaka puts in 2012 Orioles range — where we could contend for a playoff spot if absolutely everything that could go right, went right.

      1. Jason P

        *puts us in 2012 Orioles range

  22. Blackhawks1963

    When the Cubs lose out on Tanaka it is conceivable they go after Santana or Jimeniz. Sorta like how we were used as leverage by Anibal Sanchez then moved quickly to sign Edwin Jackson. The Cubs NEED a starting pitcher. Losing out on Tanaka doesn’t make the need go away.

  23. josh ruiter

    I truly think that Tanaka’s value is way more to the Cubs than anyone else….for 5 reasons:
    1. He makes us at least viable to get to/pass .500 and increases ticket sales/revenue
    2. With Tanaka: a Shark extension is more likely at a more team friendly number
    3. Our future starts immediately with a young stud anchoring the rotation
    4. With Tanaka: every other teams SP needs have less options to turn…upping Shark’s value in a trade based on perceived need and actual SP options
    5. it shows the FO commitment to win soon and long term…not just pinch pennies, and the plan begins to come to fruition

    All while we still have 5-6 guys for the 5 spot who can be flippable assets in Arrieta, Grimm, Wada, Rusin, Villanueva, Marshall, etc.

    That combination to me is worth at least an extra 3-5mil. AAV on the contract!

  24. Bob K

    Josh is right,we have to build a strong starting 4 in order to win. If Tanaka is as good as they say he is, you have to get him signed. Theo and Ricketts need to make it happen. I can’t stand to watch another 90 to 100 loss season. I am 58 and am sick of yet another rebuilding era with the Cubs. Tanaka immediately makes them a better team and probably more attractive to free agents in the years to come.

  25. cubsin

    I think there are at least six teams that would be willing to pay Tanaka 6/$120 – the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Mariners and Rangers. The Giants, Braves and Red Sox might also be willing to go that high. I doubt that he’d be interested in any more years, as that would defer his next shot at free agency. I’m guessing his final contract will be between 6/$150 and 6/$180.

  26. When the Music's Over

    Is Tanaka really worth 20M/year?

    Have the Cubs really put themselves in the position where they are going to pay this guy a top 5 pitcher contract in the history of MLB and not consider it an extreme overpay? To a large degree, if his contract gets that high, it reeks of desperation, and has an almost equal liklihood of being a huge budget drag as would an Ellsbury contract (not saying I want him), a contract so many people have vehemently ripped to shreds.

    A seven year, 140M contract for a SP is nuts.

    1. ClevelandCubsFan

      Do you think Tanaka could be worth 4 WAR per year on average? That seems very reasonable to me and would put him at 20. In fact you could pencil him at less than 4 WAR (even 3.5) and justify 20 by inflation.

    2. BT

      At this point, Tanaka is the only type of player that makes sense for the Cubs TO overpay. Sanchez made some sense last year, but even he is 4 years older than Tanaka. If the Cubs aren’t going to be bidding on 31 year old free agents (and I’m fine with that), then blowing the budget on a 25 year old isn’t the end of the world, even if it doesn’t work out.

      Plus, now that the blind bid process is gone, the Cubs will have a much lower chance of overpaying, as the market will tell them what the price on Tanaka is. They may pay too much for what he eventually delivers, but it won’t be overmarket, because the other teams trying to sign him will be setting the market.

  27. Sacko

    This satisfies my opinion on the Shark hold up, ‘wanting the Cubs to demonstrate a desire to compete in the nearer future.’

  28. James

    Like so many of us said already I feel the Cubs can outbid most of the teams. The Cubs have money under the luxary tax cap so they can front load an contract to make it look more appeling. The Yankees,Dodgers, and Rangers already are coming close to that luxary tax or have went over it already. It will depend on how Theo and Jeb can market Chicago to him.

  29. Canadian Cubs Fan

    Anyone else have a bad feeling that if this use signs somewhere else, he’ll be a star, but if he signs with the Cubs he’ll be a flop/get injured?

    Just glad he didn’t go with Boras. Close is as good as anyone.

    1. YourResidentJag

      No. Not really. If he signs with the Yankees, he’ll have tremendous pressure on him to be the top starter. Because, face it, who really else do they have?

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      There are fans from 29 other teams thinking the exact same thing. After all, doesn’t it ALWAYS happen to them and them alone?!?!

      1. DarthHater

        No, not in the way that it happens to us! :-P

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Indeed! But there are fans from 28 other teams always saying *that*!

          1. DarthHater

            They’re wrong. And irrational. ;-)

          2. DarthHater

            And what happened to the 29th team? :-P

            1. ClevelandCubsFan

              The 29th team is the Yankees.

            2. hansman

              Got sucked into a black hole.

              1. X The Cubs Fan

                I think he meant the Cubs were 29th.

  30. Phil Oddo

    When do you guys think Soler and Bryant will come up?

    1. DarthHater

      When the FO thinks they’ve accomplished what they need to accomplish in the minors.

      1. DarthHater


    2. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

      Soler and Bryant mid season depending on the need for a 3rd baseman possibly sooner for Bryant if Olt and others flame out

      1. Jason P

        In the recent interview McLeod did on the radio, he literally said that the MLB team’s needs will have absolutely no bearance on when they call up top prospects.

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