masahiro tanakaI joked at the end of yesterday’s piece about the Cubs meeting with Masahiro Tanaka this week that hopefully the brutal cold will have departed by the time Tanaka arrives in Chicago. It was one of those half-joking kinds of things, because, sure, nice weather never hurts. But, the reality is, Tanaka will be spending his winters at home in Japan, his springs in a beautiful Arizona or Florida location, and his summers in a lovely climate, regardless of where he signs.

  • Patrick Mooney seems to confirm Luke Stuckmeyer’s original report of a meeting between the Cubs and Tanaka this week, though Mooney points out that Tanaka is hoping to keep this process as confidential as possible. Perhaps we won’t hear much in the way of details – heck, we might not even hear confirmation from the Cubs that, yes, they did meet with him. Mooney’s tone remains pessimistic on the Cubs’ actual chances of landing Tanaka, which I suppose is accurate. Anyone who sells you on this thing being anything other than a long shot has snake oil up his sleeve.
  • To be clear, per Carrie Muskat, the Cubs have declined comment on Stuckmeyer’s report of a meeting.
  • Each of Muskat’s and Mooney’s pieces seem to imply that Tanaka and his agent Casey Close will be on a Stateside swing, visiting many places to hear teams’ pitches. As I wrote yesterday, that’s how I expect things to proceed. This is just the first step in the process, and many, many teams will be involved.
  • One team not involved? The Braves, whose GM told Jim Bowden flatly that the team – frequently cited as a dark horse – is not in on Tanaka.
  • The Yankees, of course, are involved – and could be a heavy favorite – and yet another report has them willing to go all out. Ian O’Connor hears the Yankees “will be heavily involved with Tanaka, very aggressive and at the top of the market, but won’t get reckless and stupid.” That implies that a team will have to be reckless and stupid to top the Yankees’ bid. Given the intangibles that the Yankees can offer – prestige, biggest stage, annual commitment to winning, history, etc. – they will be very, very hard to beat if reports like this are accurate.
  • Alden Gonzalez discusses the Angels’ involvement, and, as we heard a couple days ago, the luxury tax cap could be an issue. Steve Gilbert discusses the Diamondbacks’ interest, but notes that it’s a financial stretch. If you’re into handicapping things, it seems like the Yankees and Mariners are probably on the top tier, the Dodgers are alone on the next tier, the Cubs are alone on the next tier, and then there are a whole bunch of sincerely interested, but possibly limited, teams including the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Twins, and Astros, among others.
  • It’s the comparison and question everyone asks after seeing Yu Darvish dominate the bigs the last two years: how does Tanaka compare to Darvish? Ben Badler digs in, and the results are as expected. Tanaka is very good, but Darvish is a true ace. Tanaka is a step below that.
  • Jim

    16 days until the deadline. It’s going to be a tough 2+ weeks…

    • willis

      Nah, if you (all of us) just accept and swallow that the cubs have zero chance of being the team that gets this guy, it won’t be that tough.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Tanaka has zero shot of coming to the Cubs. So in other words, a 16 day countdown to nothing. Of course this thing will drag out to the 11th hour so we need to be tortured for the full duration.

      • BWA

        Just saying, if the cubs do sign tanaka you should probably just stop posting forever since you are so sure they won’t. There is at least some small chance they might land him, however unlikely it is.

      • baldtaxguy

        If there is a zero chance, why would we be tortured by the remaining days?

  • V23

    Willis and Blackhawks1963, that is just stupid. You have no idea what you are talking about. Do you have a quote or inside info to back that up?

    Cubs have a chance. They have the budget, and one would think they were actually waiting all offseason for Tanaka. If he goes for $30 MIL/year, well then the cubs should be out. But if it makes sense, I think they are in the top 3 to get him.

    It doesn’t mean they will get him, but by all accounts they appear to be major players. Say “zero shot” is just a waste of typing and my reading.

    • willis

      Here is what I think that brings me to the conclusion there is no chance he ends up being a Cub: The Cubs wouldn’t pay for him what he will be getting offered by the likes of the Yankees, Mariners, Angels, maybe Dodgers…that’s four organizations I think we already start behind simply with the money aspect. Theo/Jed can leak whatever they want about not being outbid, but I don’t believe it and nor should anyone. The money will be very high on this one. Much more than Ricketts would be willing to pay.

      Another challenge is the fact that I’m sure he wants to come to the states and compete for the playoffs and World Series. The Cubs are awful. Not only are the Cubs awful, but they play in an insanely tough division. Add to that the unwillingness to improve the major league roster, throwing all eggs into a prospect basket. For grins, let’s say the prospects (top ones) all make it to the bigs…you still have a HUGE challenge attempting to take down the Pirates and Cardinals, who have positioned themselves for greatness for a very long time. Even if everything works out for the Cubs and the prospects, the team is still the third best in the division. Tanaka and his agent are smart, they know this so that bumps the Cubs down even more in their eyes.

      This is just my opinion, but I would also thing all else equal, that New York, LA, and Seattle are much more attractive destinations for Tanaka to begin his major league career. Put that with the ability to win quicker at these places. That’s a tough mountain to climb.

      I just believe it’s an impossible situation for the Cubs to win. Too much stacked against them.

      • mjhurdle

        None of what you said excludes the Cubs though.
        By saying the Cubs have zero chance, you are saying that there is zero chance that your assumptions regarding how much the other teams will spend, how much the Cubs will spend, how much Tanaka values winning, etc are wrong.

        I don’t think anyone is saying it is likely that the Cubs get Tanaka, but they definitely have a chance. It would take some things breaking in the Cubs favor for sure, but I wouldn’t put it up as impossible.

        • willis

          Of course I’m not wrong :)

          It’s just one of those things where there really is just too much stacked against the cubs to make a big play here. Maybe using the word “zero” was too strong, but it will help all of you cope if you just accept that as the case.

          Let me say, if they were to pull something like this off I’ll be the first one singing the praises of this FO, because the task is just so challenging. They would have pulled off a huge miracle.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Zero chance Tanaka comes to the Cubs. Zero.

      If you want to argue the possibility, then that is akin to me saying I have a chance to be President of the United States. Of course their is some probability of it happening, but for all intents and purposes it is zero.

      • BWA

        That is a really bad analogy. You do have zero chance of becoming president because you are not a politician (I’m assuming) and there are literally thousands of more qualified people. Not to mention, you probably don’t have any desire to become president. The Cubs want Tanaka and there are only 29 other teams competing for him. Of those 30 teams, the Cubs are probably one of probably 10 teams with financial ability to sign him and need for a pitcher of his caliber at his price. That leaves them a chance. Not a good one, but a chance.

      • Boogens

        “Tanaka has zero shot of coming to the Cubs.”
        “Zero chance Tanaka comes to the Cubs.”

        Maybe I’m splitting hairs but your statements, as written, aren’t correct. Tanaka has 100% chance of coming to the Cubs (if they agree to the posting fee) since it’s his choice. I believe what you mean is that the Cubs have 0% chance of landing Tanaka and, as several posters have already indicated, that corrected statement isn’t entirely accurate, either. They do have a chance.

      • baldtaxguy

        If there is zero chance, why is he even bothering to come to Chicago? Why is Theo bothering to discuss the Cubs with him? A “zero chance” would not involve a visit or discussions I would think.

        • Brett

          There is zero chance that Blackhawks acknowledges, digests, and puts to use your point, which is well said.

  • Spoda17

    Brett, I read yesterday that the initial meetings are happening on the west coast… And again, as I have mentioned in the past… I cannot recall where I read it… I know it seems I have a terrible memory. I like to look at it as I am such a huge Cubs fan I read a lot of articles; and my memory is just fine… now where the hell did I put those keys..?

  • Patrick W.

    Perhaps a meeting in their shiny new spring training facility makes sense.

  • Ulb719

    I think we can put a little bit of stock in the fact that he’s visiting Chicago first. After all, it doesn’t make much logical sense from a traveling standpoint.

  • waffle

    my first choice would be for us to land him and for him to have a stellar 10 year career with us

    my 2nd choice would be for the yankees to completely overpay and then for him to fall apart like a plow horse that has been ridden to hard too long.

    Cuz I hate the yankees a whole bunch

  • CubFan Paul

    “the Dodgers are alone on the next tier”

    So what about Greinke, Ryu, Kershaw, Billingsley, Beckett, & Haren?

    • CubFan Paul

      Oh, and Zach Lee. The national media always forget about Lee (or any other near major league ready arm when throwing around free agent destinations).

    • CubFan Paul

      …Maybe I shouldn’t ask such tough questions.

  • Big City Mick

    This Tanaka sales pitch will be Theo’s first test as a Cub to make a legendary sales pitch. Let’s find out just how good our Prez/GM is.

    • brickhouse

      He has failed on a number of sales pitches already including Sanchez, Puig, Ryu, Cespedes & Darvish

      • noisesquared

        Theo could’ve made the greatest sales pitch in the world to Darvish and it wouldn’t have mattered. That lack of a winning bid thing would’ve been the bigger issue.

      • hansman

        Well, you succeeded 20% of the time in your post. Do you have good defensive skills?

  • DarthHater

    Okay, fellow BleacherNationals, this column should annoy just about everyone:

    • hansman

      We prefer to be called BN’ers…

      • DarthHater

        Mea culpa.

      • DarthHater

        Pretty much proves I ain’t one of those “lifers” who gets preferential treatment around here.

    • Voice of Reason

      The article in question is written by Robert Villarreal? Who in the hell is that, you ask? Here is a background from the website on the man who wrote this stupid blog:

      Robert is an avid sports blogger pursuing a dream to write about sports and to be a sports radio personality one day. A Rockford, IL native, he’s a graduate of Kishwaukee College and lover of all things Chicago. He lives in Loves Park, IL with his wife and two children, and is involved in fundraising for YMCA Charities.

      Wants to write about sports and be a sports radio personality one day?

      Who cares what this goof thinks about Tanaka!

      • DarthHater

        Told you it would annoy you. 😀

    • hansman

      My favorite line:

      “It takes a full 25 man roster to be competitive in today’s Major Leagues, with even a few Minor Leaguers thrown into the mix too. ”

      That’s what Theo has been doing wrong.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Found a link to English translation of Japan baseball news and coverage of 2013 playoffs shows Tanaka gave up 12 hits and 4 runs in one start and after the game he stated that the Giants took advantage of his weaknesses – pray tell I hope Theo digs deeper

  • Diehardthefirst

    Also according to one scouting report his breaking stuff is only average and his 24-0 record is misleading cause his team worked rotation so he was hardly ever matched against opposing team ace– it’s as if his team manipulated record to get the highest value for what could be just an above avg hurler

    • CubFan Paul

      Shit Die Hard says.

      • Diehardthefirst

        You’re fined $5.00

  • Ballgame17

    Let’s say 6/120 with $20mil posting fee = $140 mil.

    If this is the case what if the Cubs bought 2 elite prospects from their teams if this is even allowed. You’re telling me if the Cubs offered the Twins $75 mil and any mid-level prospect for Byron Buxton and the Pirates $65 mil for Jameson Taillon, they’d 100% say no??

    Again, I’m not sure if this even possible, but buying prospects (basically with inclusion of minimal prospect) off of smaller market teams would bring a diff dynamic to prospects. Just saying to have Buxton/Taillon for the same $ it’d cost for Tanaka would be pretty tempting…

    • joeyjojojunior

      Interesting idea, but not quite apples to apples becuase you’d still have to pay Buxton and Taillon for 6 years. And I’m guessing that their salaries in years 5 and 6 will not be insignificant…

    • Brett

      The Cubs would gladly “buy” Buxton from the Twins for $75 million, but MLB would not permit transactions in that way. Cash included in deals tends only to be money to cover contracts involved in the deal or very, very small sums.

      • ssckelley

        So throw in Barney? 😀

    • CubFan Paul

      “Let’s say 6/120 with $20mil posting fee = $140 mil”

      I think the final total will be lower unless it’s more years, because only one team can afford that AAV (Cubs).

      The Dodgers aren’t going to pay $20Mplus for a mid rotation starter.

      • baldtaxguy

        Interesting you think that. I have been considering the range of $$ to Tanaka being 6/120 to 6/130 with the possibility that bids will be duplicated between 2 or more teams, with the difference to Tanaka being the team situation (contending today, vs. not) and what role he prefers. Would he be more comfortable in the Yankee mystic with other 6/100’s paid players? Or would be prefer to be the TOTR starter of a building franchise?

        • CubFan Paul

          The Yanks can’t afford the 6/$100M because of the $189M. I think they’re just doing their due diligence just like everyone else when there’s a new player.

          A $20M AAV contract is huge and it appears the Cubs are the only ones who can afford it/outbid the others

          • bonger0493

            The yankees are abandoning the idea to stay under the 189 million luxury cap. They are desperate after missing the playoffs again. I forget what the % tax is, but Brett has mentioned it before. even if they go over 15-20 million, you only pay the tax on the amount you went over the cap. The cost is insignificant.

            In my opinion, to not allow teams to only buy their way into contention, they should treat salary caps like international spending. If you go a certain amount over the cap, you are not aloud to sign players over X amount of dollars. Or you are only aloud to have X amount of players with an AAV over X amount of dollars on your roster. I suppose the MLBPA would not allow this because it would bring salaries down probably dramatically however.

            • CubFan Paul

              “The yankees are abandoning the idea to stay under the 189 million luxury cap”

              only according to the media, not Cashman or Hank.

              “The cost is insignificant”

              Flat out wrong.

              The Yanks didn’t sacrifice the last 3years, knowing Tanaka would be available, only to abandon $189MM now.

            • hansman

              “In my opinion, to not allow teams to only buy their way into contention,”

              There’s already a system in place to do that. It’s called the “Only Spending On Free Agents Isn’t Going To Work” system. Teams that load up on big time free agents aren’t doing themselves any favors (Angels, Marlins).

              The best way to ensure a year-in-year-out contention is to have a strong farm system, extend the players you develop that are good, trade away peak value guys, sign a couple free agents here and there and voila, you have the A’s, the Cardinals, the Yankees 10 years ago, the Red Sox…

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        I am starting to think Tanaka’s number is moving back toward $100M. I could be wrong. But the consensus seems to be he’s a 2/3; concern about workload is becoming a steady headline; the biggest players have financial limitations that make thwir comfort zone a little lower. I think the max AAV is going to be 20 and might fall to 18. The years might push toward 5 because Tanaka might want to bet on himself as a 30 y.o. FA and clubs have concerns about durability. But I think 6 is more likely still based on nothing but gut. I’m going to guess 6/109 + the posting fee.

  • woody

    Just wondering how many of you guys saw the dash cam video of puig’s arrest? I speak passable Spanish and the later parts were Puig begging the officer to let him go. Incredibly he had his mother in the car. If he drives like that with his family I would hate to see what he could do with some of his buddies and a bottle of rum.

  • Ballgame17

    Thanks for explaining the rule of “buying” prospects. I figured there was a rule as such, but damn that woulda been a nice option to have….