I 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.
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