Obsessive Tanaka Watch: Dodgers Interest? Contract Particulars? Posting Fee?

masahiro tanakaThe hottest commodity on the market right now is in the middle of meetings that will determine where he pitches in 2014 and beyond. Thanks to months and months of buildup, it almost feels … false. Like the process isn’t really unfolding right now, it’s just more buildup. But, yeah, it’s really happening right now. Masahiro Tanaka is meeting with teams, and will sign within two weeks.

  • Although reports say Tanaka and his agent are hoping to keep this week’s meetings very hush-hush, the White Sox confirmed to the Tribune that they met with Tanaka and Casey Close in Los Angeles. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, manager Robin Ventura, and vice-president Ken Williams participated in the meeting. The Cubs, however, have not confirmed a meeting.
  • The Dodgers presumably have met or will meet with Tanaka while he’s in Los Angeles, but GM Ned Colletti says things are still in the “feeling out” stage (ESPN). Team CEO Stan Kasten tempered enthusiasm about the Dodgers actually landing Tanaka when asked, saying that he wouldn’t predict it. How much that actually means … eh. I still expect the Dodgers to be heavily involved. (UPDATE: And right on cue, the Dodgers will come out blasting.)
  • Jesse Rogers’ take on the Cubs/Tanaka situation, noting that officials had privately expressed more optimism about getting Tanaka under the old, blind-bid-one-winner posting system. Now the Cubs have to pay at the top of the market, and convince Tanaka that coming to the Cubs is a good decision based on The Plan, I guess.
  • A scout tells Dave Kaplan that he thinks that Tanaka will come down to the Blue Jays, Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, Angels and Cubs. (No Mariners?) The scout added that the final commitment could be upwards of $175 million.
  • Ken Rosenthal suggests that Tanaka’s agent could request an opt-out be build into the final deal – that agent, Casey Close, also represents Zack Greinke, who got an opt-out after three years in his Dodgers deal. Obviously you have to do what you have to do to sign a guy if other teams are right there in the bidding, but I really, really hate opt-outs for teams. By agreeing to let a guy opt out of his, say, six-year deal after three years, you’ve effectively given him a three-year deal with a three-year player option. The team retains all of the downside (if the guy gets hurt or sucks, they’re on the hook for all six years) without much of the upside (if the guy’s great, you lose him after three years).
  • The posting fee – for Tanaka or any other NPB player – will be paid out in four installments over the course of two years, lessening the burden on smaller market teams. That’s not likely to matter in the Tanaka situation.

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

95 responses to “Obsessive Tanaka Watch: Dodgers Interest? Contract Particulars? Posting Fee?”

  1. Blackhawks1963

    Prevailing thought is that Tanaka gets at least $140 M. That is some very serious money for a Japanese import (or anybody without a proven track record in this league).

    To be blunt, I’m not going to be terribly bummed out when Tanaka signs with the Yankees.

    1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      We know. You keep repeating yourself on every single Tanaka thread. If you actually feel he will 100% not come here, or is 100% going to the Yankees, why bother yourself with opening that thread and commenting the same comment? Every flipping day? Dude, it was annoying a month ago.

  2. CubFan Paul

    “eh. I still expect the Dodgers to be heavily involved.”

    Why? They have seven legit starters. Seven (Greinke, Billingsley, Kershaw, Beckett, Ryu, Haren, & Zach Lee).

    1. Johnny Chess

      As a Dodger GM you have to ask who is better? Those proven starters or Tanaka. I believe the Dodgers want to jack up the price to knock off competition from the big spenders on other free agents. The Yankees are their biggest rival for spending.

      1. CubFan Paul

        “who is better? Those proven starters or Tanaka”

        At best the Dodgers would be paying $20MM plus a year to a #3 or #4 starter.

        1. nate1m

          Tanaka is unproven. If he turns into Grienke you’re thrilled. He’s probably their fourth starter. Who knows what Beckett or Haren will do as 4th and 5th starters or how good Lee could be if he cracks the lineup.

          1. hansman

            You are right that he would be the guy who gets the ball in the 4th game played of the season.

            After that, he will, likely, just be another really good pitcher that the Dodgers would send to the mound every 5th day.

  3. Senor Cub

    “The scout added that the final commitment could be upwards of $175 million.”…that is ridiculously absurd! Cubs better turn the page if that’s the case and focus on trades. I don’t know that the top ten pitchers in the league are making that kind of money. This isn’t Maddux we are talking about here….(thought I would plug that in…hehe)

  4. notcubbiewubbie

    starting to get turned off by tanaka and his agent.if 175,000,000 is the price fuggitaboutit .this guy has never thrown a pitch in the big leagues. and there are more busts than there are star players who come over from japan. i want to win but i could not live through another soraino contract.

  5. 70's Cub

    Three year out is a deal breaker for the Cubs……Kills the front load contract concept of using non competitive payroll years 2014-2015 to get productive pieces…

  6. Jason P

    $175 million is insane for someone who might end up a #3 starter.

  7. PolarBear

    Seriously, for that cash, just sign Santana and re-sign Garza. That’s two for less than Tanaka and you already know what you’re getting. Is it really that hard to figure out???

    1. nate1m

      This sounded crazy but I just did some quick research and its not far off. Most predictions have Garza at 16 or 17 mil for 4 or 5 years and Santana around 13 or 14 for 3 or 4 from what I can fairly quickly find. But is a rotation of Shark, Garza, Santana, Wood, E-Jax going to be better than Tanaka, Shark, Wood, Arrieta, E-Jax when the hitting prospects reach Wrigley?

      1. PolarBear

        That’s also 7-9 years of control between the two of them with the option to trade for other areas of concern, should it become prevalent. Also, let someone else give the 3 year opt out to Tanaka and then we can scoop him up as a free agent once he’s shown what he can do against elite talent.

  8. Johnny Chess

    When it all comes down to an actual deal, no GM is going to over pay. He will be left with 2 or 3 offers to choose from. The amount will be 120 mil +/- or 17 mil per yr for 7 yrs with a club option in 6th and 7th yr.

    1. Wilburthefirst

      Agree very strongly with this thinking … I would assume with no real knowledge the statements about high end offers and the three year opt out are either musings by those outside the process or the agent’s team setting a high bar for public consumption.

  9. Cubsin

    A three-year opt out clause suggests a staggered contract, e.g. $20 million in the first three years, followed by $30 in the last three years. Feel free to substitute your own numbers.

  10. Johnny Chess

    That posting fee is still money out of pocket and has to reflect on the final price.

  11. When The Musics Over

    Can we get a running Tanaka post count? It has to be somewhere in the teens already, and there’s still two weeks to go.

  12. Johnny Chess

    Yu Darvish was an example of posting fee plus actual contract. He was highly touted and still he was had for a song. No way Tanaka is worth twice as much.

    1. Edwin

      After the Rangers one the posting fee bid, Darvish was only able to negotiate with the Rangers. Tanaka will be able to negotiate with any team who posts the $20MM posting fee. Tanaka may not be worth as much as Darvish, but he’ll be paid much more, because he has more leverage.

      1. Wilburthefirst

        I think you are correct to a point, but if he doesn’t project to better than Darvish or say even a Garza/Santana/or whatever his value is estimated at his agent may start the conversation with any offer, but the negotiation will eventually settle around a more reasonable AAV figure.

        His value to most teams is not his upside as a pitcher per se, It is his projected value as a pitcher plus his youngish age as he is comes to the FA Market. My simple third grade mind says the most likely scenario is he gets the going AAV for a #2, but he get’s it for a longer period than an older FA with similar assumed value.

        If he has a lot of confidence in his ability and is a risk taker, which many people start not to be when tens of millions are on the table, he does a four deal with a contender willing to pay for immediate value and reenters the FA Market for one more big pay day in his late 20′s. Much bigger risk/reward to this strategy and depends on his personality.

  13. greekcubsfan

    $175 million is a ton of money for someone who hasn’t pitched in the MLB. He may end up being worth it but it’s a huge gamble. I’m praying we get it right, either way.

  14. Jr 25

    Id give up on Tanaka. Sign Garza or Santana- forfiet the pick and sign Johan Santana to a 1 or 2 yr incentive laden deal and flip him if he’s doing well!

  15. Johnny Chess

    It would interesting to see what former MLB players in Japan collectively did against Tanaka.

  16. Jr 25

    And than id still try to trade Shark for some pitching prospects!

  17. Johnny Chess

    Garza burned up his good will with the Cubs. He opted out of surgery and collected paychecks while he healed “naturally”. There will be flare ups. Thumbs down on Garza.

  18. NorthSideIrish

    That Jeff Passan article is ugly…going to fire up the anti-Ricketts crowd

    1. CubFan Paul

      “Cubs in six words: Spare change? Ownership real bleacher bums”

    2. hansman

      Which link is it? I tried them all and couldn’t find it.

      1. CubFan Paul
        1. hansman


      2. hansman

        Nevermind, found it.

    3. woody

      He’s just saying what a whole lot of people have been saying all along. I think some of the criticism has been misguided because they have made the FO the focus of their rath. I think Passan was very careful to put Jed and Theo in a good light. I can only wonder where we would be if Cuban had bought the team. Personally I think Ricketts should sell the team if his finances are so strained that has to continue along the path we have been on. I think that Passan just pulled the curtain back on the Wizard. People that have posted their displeasure with ownership here in the past have recieved a lot of blow back from ardent supporters of the plan. I am not against the plan. I just think there should be a minimum standard for fielding a MLB ball club. Now Houston has the top pick for the third year in a row. Is this the Ricketts business model?

      1. When The Musics Over

        Yes, the Cubs more or less have employed the same plan as Houston. Houston has just been arguably better at employing it.

      2. ChicagoJoe

        This article is crotchety crap.

        I think the only fair shot to take at ownership at this point is how the stadium renovation has been delayed. I know the rooftops are a pain in the ass, but they have to have a price and you should be able to match it. I don’t believe that banks, given the current revenue reports coming in at $8 billion, have any hesitation in financing the buyout of those buildings. Take on the debt and know in the long run that the ROI is going to be massive. Should have played hardball w/ Rahm as well from the start. I love Wrigley and all, but I love winning more. The city would have blinked with the right moves surrounding a potential move out of Wrigley. That is fair criticism.

        In terms of spending on the field, forget about these FAs who have been available the past few years. If price for Tanaka is near $175m, forget about that as well. Money will be better spent the next couple of years on complimentary pieces. We needed to break this down completely, suck for 4-5 years, and start over. Let the artist start with a completely clean canvass and let him try something that is new/original. I think in Theo’s heart of hearts he relishes this challenge everyday to find new ways to exploit inefficiences and find value where other fail to look while these other pieces (stadium, TV deal, prospects) come together. He is the master of spin and when he talks about wanting more payroll flexibility, yada, yada, yada you critics are being spun. You think he wants Shin Choo Choo at that money? How about Cano? The list goes on. After he is done spinning, he sits back at the end of the day and laughs, knowing that win or lose this year or next, he will get paid and that this is going to work.Sometimes you have to hold people’s feet to the fire for a while for the greater good. I’m young and I know that is an advantage in this situation b/c time is on my side. But in 5-7 years, I am going to look back at this era and say, “Yeah, it was worth it, we are the class of baseball,” w/ a big grin on my face.

  19. When The Musics Over

    In general, at this point, the Tanaka fever has very likely surpassed his expected value. The numbers thrown around are of the record variety for a starting pitcher. One of whom is “expected” to be a #2/#3 starter. So many people looked at Ellsbury’s contract as a would be massive anchor for the Cubs in a few years, yet $175M for a Japanese pitcher who’s never thrown a pitch in the MLB (injury potential aside), and that’s money well spent? He could be an even larger anchor.

    1. Kyle

      Very few starting pitchers hit free agency at this age. If they did, more would get contracts at this level or higher.

      1. When The Musics Over

        Just because he’s 26 or so, doesn’t mean teams should justify a massive overpay to secure his services. I’d rather have an adequately priced 29/30 year old SP for 5 years than a 23M/year a 26 year old for 7 years.

  20. Baseball_Writes

    I don’t know how much it’s been talked about, but I would watch out for the White Sox in this one. Tanaka fits very well into their plans for the short and long term. If Hahn/Williams can convince him they are on the right track (and Reinsdorf opens up the purse strings), they might have a real shot. I know it’s difficult to see them competing for someone coveted by the Haves of baseball, but they can be surprising at times.

    I think the Yankees are still the favorite, but the White Sox are my dark horse.

  21. Fastball

    I would take Garza and Santanna along with Shark, Wood and EJax all day anyday of the week. We got some prospects coming in Milb so when we are really ready to compete if one of these guys goes down we should have a quality next man up in my opinion. 3 years from now Those 5 guys are all still under 35 and that is when most of their contracts would be up. I would hope if we hypithetically were able to sign Garza and Santanna that we would have enough offense to compete by middle of this season. Meaning Baez and Alcanterra are called up and Olt is doing a great job at 3B. I just have to believe that this team could be hanging around within possible striking distance if we had a really good rotation. Hell we would have been a lot better last year with our 1st half rotation if the bullpen didn’t suck so damned bad. Everytime one of the starters went 6+ and handed the ball to the pen he had to think to himself. Here is another loss on my record. Pitchers do care about their record and their ERA I don’t care what anybody says. They are measured on metrics but that doesn’t change how they think. So if the price is going to be $175MM for Tanaka that’s fine. If I’m Theo I start the bidding at $165MM and sit back and watch the Yankees and Dodgers spend a ton of money on a guy who hasn’t proven a thing at the MLB level. I would almost bet against Tanaka living out his contract from a performance standpoint. If you got 3 years out of him before he broke down you would be my partner at the craps table. I can take some satisfaction from running up the price on the guy and then walking away. My finger would be on the speed dial to Garza and Santanna two seconds after the bidding ended.

    1. woody

      I’m just spitball’in here, but I read somewhere that the bullpen cost us around 40 games last season? I assume that is a combination of blown saves and hold opportunities. To have gotten on the right side of those 50% of the time would hve made us a .500 ball club. So I guess what I am saying is that if we don’t trade Shark for prospects that aren’t ready to compete at the major league level, and add a decent stop gap guy like maybe Baker to the rotation, along with bounce back years from Castro and Rizzo and a much improved bullpen you never know what could happen. Personally I hope they don’t sign Tanaka. This thing is getting totally out of hand. Originally I though we were looking at a posting fee of 20 million plus maybe an average of 20 million a year. Now I hear talk of 175 million to get it done. Crazy!

      1. hansman

        I’d like to see where you found that.

        Flipping 20 of those games would have put us at 86-76. Something doesn’t sound right there.

      2. DocPeterWimsey

        The starting rotation yielded an OPS of 0.709. So, if the bullpen had been as good as the starters, then the team net OPS still would have been -0.016, which projects to a 0.479 (77-78 win) team. That might sound like a lot: but the whole team had a -0.025 OPS, which means that had the relievers pitched as well as the starters then the Cubs would have been *expected* to win two more games, not 12 more games.

        Now, the Cubs did tie with the Tigers for the biggest negative difference between expected and observed victories last year (both teams should have won 10 more games). That suggests that exactly *when* the bullpen gave up runs hurt. However, that also is an ESPN effect: a lot of those blown leads would still have been safe *IF* the batters had performed better than they did.

  22. Dave64

    If the Sox were to sign him they will have had a very impressive off season.

  23. Fastball

    BW… I agree with you. Does Jerry want to win this year or not. The man may just start paying attention to the Sox instead of the Bulls.

  24. CubsFanSaxMan

    Tanaka may want 175 million, but is anyone willing to pay that? I don’t think that you will see anybody offering more than 120+ million. Tanaka will than have to decide which contract to take. Bring on the perks!! What does Theo have to offer in that department?

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