masahiro tanakaAs I said this morning, things are likely to pick back up on the Masahiro Tanaka front now that the holidays are behind us and Tanaka’s agent is back from a family vacation.

And, right on cue, Luke Stuckmeyer with the report …

If true, you can figure that this is Tanaka and his agents making an initial round of visits with interested teams to hear their presentations. I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that Tanaka is also reportedly meeting with the White Sox on this visit. If it’s actually in Chicago, there would be no reason not to sit down with the White Sox, too – while they aren’t expect to be major players for Tanaka, the $20 million maximum posting bid means that basically no team should refuse a meeting if they can get one.

As for the Cubs meeting with Tanaka, we’ll see if more comes out. It’s hard to conceal this kind of thing, so I’d tentatively expect the Cubs to be forced to confirm a meeting at some point. If it happens this week, we’ll hear a lot more.

But don’t expect to hear anything too firm or final. Tanaka, if he’s content to take his time, has no reason not to meet with every interested team and play this thing out until the January 24 deadline. He’s making a huge, life-changing (in more than one way) decision, so it’s more than reasonable for him to take his time. Teams like the Cubs will, for their part, take every opportunity they’re given to court Tanaka along the way.

So, to sum up: Tanaka meeting with the Cubs this week is/would be a meaningful revelation worth discussing. It confirms their interest, and sets things in motion. But don’t get too excited just yet. Many miles ahead on this road.

Some improved weather by the time Tanaka arrives certainly wouldn’t hurt.

  • thoskam

    Part of me wonders why the Cubs would meet with Tanaka IN Chicago. I mean – it’s FREEZING cold out right now. Why not try and schedule the meeting at the shiny new facilities in Arizona? You know.. . where its WARM. The pessimistic side of me thinks that this allows for the Cubs to say “hey we tried” when he decides to go to a warmer climate (LA). The optimistic side of me is thinking the Cubs are trying to be honest up front with Tanake (“Look, it’s but-ass cold here – but we really want to win with you”) .. I dunno.

    • woody

      They have winter in Japan too. Remember the winter olympics there? I doubt that will be an issue.

      • DarthHater
        • DarthHater

          That’s not just a question, it’s a link. 😉

        • woody

          It’s 41 degrees in Tokyo right now. Mostly the snow is in the mountins, but they do get occasional snow in the capital.

    • David

      Good idea.

  • franktracy

    Blind-fold him, fly him out to Cali, print out a picture of wrigley in the summer and tape it to the other side of a window. Done.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Here’s a better idea: show Tanaka a video of the trajectory of a crushed flyball in Wrigley on a cool day when the wind is blowing in off of the lake.

      • hansman

        You don’t like cold weather? Just take a look at what it will do for your ERA here at Wrigley.

      • JacqueJones

        Just don’t show any baseballs an a hot humid July day.

  • jmc

    He will probably go home to Japan for the winter no worries

  • Diehardthefirst

    Memo to Theo- this guys best years are behind him as he’s not going to get any better and given workload can only get worse — he’s avg 115 pitches per start and 200 innings per year- his team should pay Cubs 20 mil to take him

  • Mr Gonzo

    On paper, landing Tanaka makes the rotation (and the team) more competitive, and moves the window dial. But in reality, he could easily blow his arm up in a magnificent display of 80’s special effects (i’m thinking in the ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ budget range) for whatever team he signs for… by the end of May. If it’s for the Cubs, many will blame the curse.

    If he becomes a Cub, would it be worth considering a little extra babying his first season as a precautionary effort? Or is idea just a product of my allergy medication finally working?

    • terencemann

      I wouldn’t mind them see them baby him a little, either. I’m not saying a strict innings limit but just don’t overwork him right off the bat. I’m guessing he’ll have some adjustments to make at the MLB level, anyway, so seeing him get to the 7th inning regularly would be a victory.

    • TK

      ANY pitcher can blow his arm at any time. You cant control that. That concern would keep you from spending ANY money on ANY pitcher. Can we step in reality, please?

  • Jed Jam Band

    I’m cautiously optimistic. That’s all I’ve got for now.

  • CubFan Paul

    I’m reading a lot into this. Tanaka’s agent knows where the money & best fit is. I bet he does very few visits/courtings.

    • CubFan Paul

      I think Brett put the over/under on Tanaka signing 1-20-14.

      I got the under ..He took the over

  • josh ruiter

    Just a reminder to all fans out there. In Japan they essentially pitch once a week, with 6 days off instead of 4. So 115 pitches and 200 innings is alot yes, but when you have 150% of the rest period after every start it definitely helps decrease the wear and tear. I don’t think 115 pitches a week is that bad. If you average out 115 pitches a week for a big leaguer starter 6-7 starts a month instead of 4 you definitely average less pitches a month on that arm in Japan. I wouldn’t worry too much about that mileage right now…the concern is if we bring him in and throw him 115 pitches every 5 days his arm may not be ready to adjust to that.

  • woody

    Look at all of the old school guys. The 300 game winners back in the days before TJ surgery. Kind of makes you wonder about modern day players. A guy like Babe Ruth could throw a complete game and hit a couple of homers followed by an evening of beer drinking. And yes the Babe was a pitcher at one time.

  • Chris

    I can see it now..

    Enter Tanaka into conference room with Cubs’ brass.. Unnamed Cubs brass member shakes Tanaka’s hand…

    Brass: “Hey Masahiro, thanks for meeting with us. We really have no interesting in signing you but now we can at least release something saying that we met with you or A) you wanted too much money or B) it just ‘wasn’t a good fit’. Thanks for bailing us out..”
    Tanaka: “But.. I’d.. like.. to.. play.. here?”

    …Door slams..

    Tanaka (now sitting alone in a room): “Hello?”

    • TSB

      Alternative: ” We will sign you, but be prepared, we will trade you in July for prospects…”

    • Abe Froman

      Chris, what have the Cubs done to remotely fit that paranoia? That would be bizarre for any baseball professional, it would be a huge story.

      • hansman

        Comeon…don’t you know that the has all of the media in his back pocket and the players union?

        The narrative that Theo and jed are only pretending to try is fairly ridiculous.

        • aaronb

          Agreed, you don’t go out and get Wesley Wright and George Kottaras unless winning is a top priority.

          • DarthHater

            All teams sign players like that. It has nothing to do with whether winning is a top priority. The issue with the Cubs FO is not that they have signed guys like Wright and Kottaras, it’s that they have not signed anybody else of great significance. At the moment, it appears possible that they they may be making a serious effort to accomplish what would be one of the most significant signings of the off-season. That’s not really the best moment for dripping sarcasm.

            • aaronb

              I follow that Darth and agree with it. My point was the counter to hausman above stating it’s silly to claim the Cubs aren’t trying to win this year.

              I’m merely pointing out that they HAVEN’T shown that they are actually trying to win. At least not in the near future.

      • TK

        They didn’t do anything. Chris just wants attention.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Nightengale says Tanaka and Close have visits teed up with the Diamandback, San Francisco, both LA teams, Seattle, Boston, Miami. Visits are being arranged with the Yankees and Texas. Baltimore might also be added to the list tomorrow. Ditto Toronto and Washington.

    So in other words Tanaka is making his world tour with Close.

    • Patrick G

      Where’d you see this?

      • Blackhawks1963

        Sporting News radio station as I was driving a rental car thru Tulsa this afternoon. On business trip.

        • Abe Froman

          What color was the car?

          • hansman

            I was going to ask “by what mile marker” but figured it would be a dick move.

            Now I’m just piling on so it’s not a full on dick move.

            • Blackhawks1963

              On whatever Hertz GPS route I was on from Tulsa airport to Citgo building. Strange bizarrely skinny building. Tulsa was cold. I’ve been there when it felt hotter than the sun but today was one of the coldest days I bet they ever get. Wind bites in the ass. On par with downtown Chicago. Yikes.

              Anyways. The Sporting News Radio jingle played before Bob Nightengale was on. My takeaway is that Tanaka is cramming in a world tour. Good for him. He’s for to make a decision by the 24th. Sure he will. Maybe this goes all the way to the end?! I still say a lock to sign with the Yankees because they literally have to get him.

          • JeffR

            Miss Lippy drives a blue car.

            • Abe Froman

              Full on laugh out loud.

            • beerhelps

              You got some bad info. Ms Lippy’s car is green. And Billy likes to drink soda.

    • Cubbie in NC

      Does anyone else see a city on this list that does not belong?

      Miami is a vacation not a place to go and play. It looks like anyone interested gets a visit, plus a city for the agent. No need to get excited unless we hear of a 2nd trip to Chicago.

  • woody

    Miami is a big surprise to me. I have red some reports that the D-backs may make a big move on him.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Are Cubs using Tanaka as leverage against Shark? That is only reason I can see them taking time to meet with him. Unless meeting includes full physical which had to be condition of posting fee.

    • DarthHater

      You don’t pay the posting fee unless you sign him and nobody would sign a guy without a physical, so the notion of making the physical a condition of the posting fee is nonsensical.

      • Diehardthefirst

        If physical is condition of signing then its condition of posting fee too – more importantly google his name and injury and you will find several articles by well respected writers raising same issues I have been as to health. One physical is not going to cut it. Can he do one handed push-ups with right arm? How about one handed pull-ups? Etc..

        • DarthHater

          I’m glad to see that you are finally actually seeking out real information to support your comments. Welcome to the reality-based community. I hope your stay is a long one, but I don’t really expect it.

  • woody

    Signing Tanaka would probably increase the odds of Shark signing an extention. Doing nothing makes his trade all the more likely.

  • CubsFanSaxMan

    The teams are not interviewing Tanaka, he is interviewing the teams. This is just the first round. He will then “weed out” the undesirables and proceed with round two. He may also have a round three with the finalists (the top two or three). Tanaka is just getting started. The process will last all the way until the end of the month deadline. However, the Cubs should know if they have made it to the second round by the end of next week. The tension keeps building day by day. Can you stand it????

    • Blackhawks1963

      Except that he has to sign a deal by the 24th. He doesn’t have a lot of time to dick around.

  • Leo the Lip

    Do they take to dinner at Benehana?

    • danimal8


  • Cheese Chad

    Ladies and Gentleman, having nothing to do with the Chicago Cubs, how ’bout them Iowa State Cyclones.

    • LLE

      Oh Yeah. “The Mayor” is “The Man!”

  • Cheese Chad

    I think all these reports saying “this team is a dark-horse” is just implying what we all knew before; the $20 million dollar posting fee is too enticing to pass up. This is prompting anyone with a pen or the interwebs to decide that a team willing to post the fee is a dark-horse. It’s still the teams we thought would REALLY be after him. Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, maybe a couple more.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Yes. But I wouldn’t be surprised if in the end we’re surprised. If that makes sense… just so many factors– not to mention the human variables.

  • Cheese Chad

    Also un-cubs related but Chicago related; it was the right move but Luol Deng will be missed!

  • arta

    git er done!

  • coondawg

    The University of Louisville are seriously considering hiring Bobby Petrino again to replace Charlie Strong ….WTF

  • LWeb23

    I like to think the White Sox meeting with him will help out the Cubs. If our front office decides they really want this guy, they will outbid the White Sox, I have no question about that. But Tanaka having two voices (Cubs and Sox) tell him how great Chicago is, that could help selling him to actually come here rather than NY or LA or where ever.

    • CubFan Paul

      “come here rather than NY or LA or where ever”

      If i’m the Cubs, I put $18M a year on the table (7yrs/$126MM) and confidently give them 24-48hrs to accept because:

      New York has worked to hard to get under $189M, and 7 for $130MM isn’t going to happen there.

      LA already has six healthy starters (Greinke, Ryu, Kershaw, Billingsley, Beckett, & Haren), with 3 or 4 of them being better than Tanaka, two of them for sure. So $20MM plus for a mid rotation starter.

      Zach Lee is the Dodgers seventh starter now. There’s no fit with the Dodgers either.

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