Obsessive Tanaka Watch: Are There Three Finalists? Yankees, Dodgers, Angels?

masahiro tanakaHaving returned from the United States and meetings with a number of teams, Masahiro Tanaka is once again the big story in Japan, just as he is here. That means translated rumors!

The one that’ll get your attention and make you slap a couch pillow comes from Sports Hochi, which reports that Tanaka came back from his stateside meetings having settled on three finalists: the Yankees, the Dodgers, and the Angels. That translation comes courtesy of Dylan Hernandez, as well as Google Translate (notoriously awful for Japanese articles). It’s hard to discern from the translation the precise source of this information, and the veracity is borderline impossible to establish. Given that there are 11 days left before Tanaka must sign, I’d find it hard to believe he or his agent are all that eager to leak – already – his three finalists.

And let’s not forget: it wasn’t three weeks ago that Tanaka wasn’t going to be posted. And then he was. And then he wasn’t. Rooms full of salt are needed.

That said, the Yankees and Dodgers have always – always – made sense as serious contenders for Tanaka, even if recent reports suggest the Dodgers aren’t all that heavily involved.

A separate report out of Japan doesn’t list any finalists, instead noting only that the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Diamondbacks are involved, together with as many as six other teams.

So, where do things stand? Well, Tanaka and his agent have met with nine or ten teams in Los Angeles, and those teams have been given an initial opportunity to make a pitch. But Tanaka has not yet been to visit any teams/cities directly (other than Los Angeles, but it’s unclear if he actually went to any team facilities there). At least one report of undetermined legitimacy says Tanaka came back from the meetings down to the Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels.

I think it’s possible we’ll hear about future visits soon, but we might not – either because they might not leak, or because Tanaka won’t be taking any. For now, I’ll wait for a stateside report to confirm the substance of the Sports Hochi piece before I conclude that the Cubs – or any other non-Yankee, non-Dodger, non-Angel team – is formally out.

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

67 responses to “Obsessive Tanaka Watch: Are There Three Finalists? Yankees, Dodgers, Angels?”

  1. FullCountTommy

    I get that the Dodgers want to sign all the players, and I understand rotation depth, but I just don’t get why they’d want Tanaka so badly. With Tanaka, they’d have six starting pitchers making more than $10 million in 2014, and two of those six wouldn’t even be in the rotation. Seems their money is better spent elsewhere, like locking up Kershaw as fast as humanly possible.

    1. Chiburgh

      Why are the Dodgers so interested in Tanaka?

      With Tananka in the rotation, the Dodgers would increase their chances of winning a WS before Kershaw potenially leaves via FA.

  2. Justin

    I really wish the Cubs would go after Santana, Garza, and Jimenez. Give them fair take it or leave it now deals, and get it done… You have to think those 3 are getting a bit nervous this late in the offseason. Especially with Santana and Jimenez. Other teams seem scared off because the compensation with them. I really hope the Cubs aren’t avoiding them because of giving up their 2nd rd pick. That would be ridiculous… This whole Tanaka thing is over the top, and just seems like there is no way he is getting anything less than above market deal.

    1. FullCountTommy

      I get the feeling those guys are waiting out the whole Tanaka thing. There will be plenty of teams who missed out on Tanaka, and those teams will turn to Jimenez, Garza, and Santana. Those guys will still get theirs.

      1. Justin

        I know they’re waiting on Tanaka, but if a team comes and is aggressive with them now it would blow the market up. I would love it if the Cubs could get 2 of them and just piss off everyone, and then rape a team in a Samardzija deal.. Them waiting until the end of the month is pretty risky for a variety of reasons…

        1. FullCountTommy

          But giving those guys above market deals or even anywhere close to market deals doesn’t make any sense for the Cubs. Why would you pay two of those guys $100 million each, that’s just ludicrous.

          1. Justin

            I’m not saying give them an above market deal. What I am saying is give them a market deal now, and then they don’t have to risk going Lohse style without a deal until March. And I am not as certain as you are that all these teams are all about giving up their 1st rd picks to sign them either. Actaully, it seems to me most of the teams don’t want to give up their 1st rd picks for them… If I am JImenez and Santana I am pretty nervous regardless of the Tanaka situation.

            1. FullCountTommy

              I know you’re not saying that, but an above market deal is what it would take to get them to sign right now. That’s all I’m really trying to say. I understand your thought process, but the Tanaka bidding process ends on January 24th, not March 24th

              1. Justin

                Well those guys are ballsy then if they’re only willing to sign an above market deal right now. They must not be familiar with what the compensation tied to them does to their market.. It seems that teams like the Dbacks and Angels won’t be in on them at all with having to give up a mid 1st rd pick..

                1. Cheese Chad

                  Right now teams 8-10 teams want Tanaka. Only one will so the other 7-9 have to (in their minds) get one of those other three and the competition for their services will drive up the price. It is in their best interest to wait the Tanaka market out. That’s the reality, Justin.

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      “Give them fair take it or leave it now deals, and get it done…”

      Which one do you want the Cubs to do? The first tactic will get you three “no” faster than Shawon Dunston would swing at 3 pitches in the dirt. The second tactic (nebulous though it is) would probably get all three pitchers at multiyear deals for a pretty penny.

      1. Justin

        Maybe I didn’t phrase it right. I just want the Cubs to be aggressive and not let Tanaka control their offseason like he seems to be doing for all the teams. Getting out in front of the market would be nice…

        1. willis

          Well Garza won’t happen, no matter what, so scratch that thought. Jimenez intrigues me for the right price, but I doubt the cubs would be willing to spend what it would take to get him.

        2. roz

          They can’t get out in front of the market here, on one can. Both those pitchers and multiple teams are focused on Tanaka. Those pitchers would be stupid to take a deal from a team unless that team stupidly offered them way over market. As soon as Tanaka signs, many of the teams that didn’t get Tanaka are going to start a bullrush for the rest of the pitchers on the market. Why would they accept a market-level deal from anyone now? They’d be dumb to do that. The Cubs can’t get in front of this market no matter how much they want to.

          1. Justin

            I can’t wait to see the “bullrush” for Santana and Jimenez. I am sure Garza will be fine, and the Yankess will for sure be interested in them all if they don’t get Tanaka, but that’s the only team i see. Maybe I am wrong and teams don’t care about their 1st rd. picks for mid level pitchers on non-cheap deals. I don’t see it though… Good luck to them.

            1. roz

              Bullrush might have been the wrong word, but my point still stands. Teams and pitchers are waiting out the Tanaka saga, and there’s nothing the Cubs can do to get out ahead of it.

              1. Justin

                Fair enough. I just have my doubts that the market for those 2 is going to be big even after the Tanaka signing because of their compensation attached. And thought that’s something their agents and the Cubs could discuss in advance of the Tanaka signing. But clearly I am on my own on that one;) I guess we will see in the next couple weeks…

              2. DocPeterWimsey

                You are looking at it backwards. Those guys are not going to sign with anybody until Tanaka is signed because their value goes up once he is off the market and the 4-5 big $$$ team that miss Tanaka have to look elsewhere.

                The only way to sign one of them now is to throw such ridiculous numbers at them that they don’t think anybody will match the offer even after Tanaka isn’t an option.

                1. Justin

                  Yes, I understand that thinking. But don’t think they have the same market at all as Tanaka (other than the Yankees) because of the reasons I identified above. But I am going to drop it now, I promise..

                  1. Cheese Chad

                    Not to indulge any further, but even though their market isn’t as high as Tanaka’s it will be personally higher once he’s signed. For example if the market for Jiminez is say 3 years 35 million now it will be 4 years 55 millions after Tanaka signs because teams will have to outbid each other to get him.

        3. Voice of Reason


          When you’re big signs of the off season are a back up catcher and a second rate closer you’re not being aggressive and NO PLAYER is preventing you from making moves in the off season.

  3. CubFanBob

    Personally I am just ready for it all to be over with. It’s a long shot he comes here so I am trying to distance myself so as not to be that disappointed when it’s finally over.

    One would think he would want to sign asap as to not risk a contract falling apart at the last minute.

    1. fortyonenorth

      Yeah. I don’t know whether the 30-day negotiation period means team/player need to come to an agreement in principal or whether the contract has to be signed and dotted. $150 million dollar deals–negotiations, contracts, physicals, back-and-forth, approvals, signing–certainly don’t happen overnight. I would think a couple weeks would be the bare minimum to get through all that on a deal of this magnitude. If you look at the FA signings that have been announced this offseason, and then track them from announcement to final contract being signed, many have taken several weeks or more.

  4. Seth

    “Rooms full of salt” made me chuckle more than it probably should have.

  5. willis

    Weird, the Cubs may not be finalists? Who knew?

    I agree with others that say just get it over with so they can move on and try to plug that last rotation hole. Still can get a decent arm if they act quickly and are willing to actually add payroll. If not, I’d guess it’s a battle between Villanueva and Rusin.

  6. ChicagoJoe

    Hey Brett,

    Did you ever think about getting either an auto-refresh going w/ the comments or implementing some way to opt into this?

    It’s kind of pathetic that I want to read the comments in real time as they appear, but work can be really boring. Especially on a post like this where I’m sure there is going to be over 150 posts in the next couple hours or on the post from yesterday. I can’t be the only one out there who spends time during football games reading through 200+ comments all day. It gets a little old having to click all the time. I’m sure there are also people on here who constantly refresh to see what the next reply was to their comment.

    1. FullCountTommy

      I approve of this idea, you’re not alone Chicagojoe!!

  7. Jon

    Do we still get the participation trophy?

    1. willis

      Depends on the rules, do you get that even if you miss the first cut?

  8. salesguy

    I understand the Yankees and Dodgers (though not really the Dodgers with several starters signed to north of 10mil, and Kershaw waiting for his own 9 figure extension, it seems like a silly 9 figure spend, for something that is already a strength) but, the Angels really surprise me. With the Hamilton, and Albert show going badly, it seems like they are further than 1 player away, if you’re their GM again why make this play. I think the Yankees are the biggest contenders, because quite frankly with an aging roster, and few minor league options, this is really all they have. I’m just not sure the “favorites” being listed aren’t based more on speculation from the reporters, and bluster from organizations themselves, than actual reporting, and logic. Other than the Yankees, the other “favorites” just don’t make sense.

    1. Chiburgh

      The Dodgers provide Tanaka with the best chance of winning now.

    2. Cub Fan Dan

      I heard on MLB radio – and I cant really back it up because I dont remember which host – that Kershaw might be looking to head back to his hometown of Dallas. He isn’t the type that fits in with the LA lifestyle (married his HS sweetheart & is strongly religious) & is one that would take things such as playing for his hometown over top dollar.

      Take it with a grain of salt, but its me paraphrasing something that someone who I cant recall said. :)

      With that being said, it could probably be one explanation Tanaka is on the Dodger’s radar.

      1. FullCountTommy

        Kershaw to Texas makes a ton of sense. I would love to see him hit the open market, it sure would be fun!!

    3. hansman

      ” Kershaw waiting for his own 9 figure extension”

      If I were Kershaw, I would wait for free agency.

  9. Noah_I

    I kind of doubt the finalists thing is true, because why would you want to tell teams who either do or may have money (Mariners, Cubs, etc.) to shove off at this stage of negotiations? Also, the listing of the Angels is… odd. Is that a team that honestly has the money for another six figure contract? Maybe they do, but my understanding was that they were pretty tapped out, and that any additions they made would have to be revenue neutral.

    1. Chiburgh

      One could surmise Tanaka came here with an idea of who he wants to play for regardless of money.

      1. Noah_I

        Even if that’s the case, why publicize it? If I have the Dodgers dropping out at a total, including posting fee, of 7 years/$140 million, but the Yankees and Mariners are willing to go to $150 million, why would I want to publicize that I’m not considering the Mariners, making it so that I can only bid the Yankees against the Dodgers’ offer instead of against both the Dodgers’ and Mariners’ offers?

        1. Chiburgh

          I understand what you are saying, but maybe it’s not all about the money. Maybe it’s about getting a WS ring. Maybe it’s about fullfilling a dream of playing for his favorite childhood team.

          We don’t know anything about Tanaka, the person. So to say, he’s going to sign for the most money is unfair.

  10. CubsFanSaxMan

    Someone said a while back that Tanaka would sign with a team where he would be the number one starter. I agree with that. That would eliminate the Dodgers. So who wins between the Yankees and Angels? West coast or East coast? Both teams have enough money. Or will the ever popular “surprise” team come out of nowhere? The CUBS?!?!

  11. brainiac

    yes but let’s stop pretending that signing free agents with revenues from the team is something lamentable. that’s just the most ridiculous argument that appears here all the time, and it’s really just out of jealousy that these teams have some degree of integrity about what they do with their finances. they pay them back to the players.

    there’s two possible arguments here. 1) teams should have a salary cap and wealth distribution so that there’s more equity between team capacities. i would support this. 2) that if certain teams have x amount of money that players deserve y amount of percentage of revenues. the cubs fall short on both sides and function like more the kansas city royals not out of necessity but out of choice.

    1. hansman

      ” let’s stop pretending that signing free agents with revenues from the team is something lamentable”

      I’m not sure that is the debate. The debate is whether it is prudent to sign the usual free agents with revenue from the team and if that is desirable.

      Considering that 30 year olds are starting to age like 30 year olds again, I am not sure it is.

      Should we sign Tanaka, yes. Should that mean we spend whatever it takes, no.

      1. brainiac

        i agree with this, btw. but evidence is in the lineup. nothing is prudent to the team, when the team isn’t set on winning. it’s that simple. teams that are trying to win sign veteran leaders. it’s a huge either/or argument that fails every logic 101 class. either you bring in proven talent with the team’s vast revenues or you don’t. and people have to stop crying that these guys are poor. let’s also set up a nonprofit to give money to donald trump while we’re at it. when he’s building skyscrapers he sometimes has to dip into his personal savings too.

    2. fortyonenorth

      and, 3) the peasants shall receive two loaves of bread each week. Else wise, there shall be revolution.

      Seriously, I get the idea, but it’s counter to the economic model that exists in this country. What matters is not how much of a pie piece the players are getting–it’s whether or not the owner fields a winning team.

      1. brainiac

        that’s exactly what i’m saying. i’m not going to go on some rant against capitalism, but compared to other big city owners, these guys just look really substandard. so let’s stop blaming other big markets for investing in their team. it’s just so silly to blame them for trying.

  12. hansman

    Oh so there are favorites for Tanaka?

    Same story, different horse.

  13. Edwin

    Whenver I see the “awful translation” comment, I immeaditely think of that Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror where they’re abducted by aliens, and Homer thinks he found the cookbook, and they keep blowing dust off of it to change the meaning of the title.

    1. Cizzle

      One of the many Simpsons rip-offs of Twilight Zone episodes.

  14. Blackhawks1963

    It’s been predestined from the beginning that Tanaka signs with the Yankees. They literally have to have him and so long as he is open to playing in NY then they will have him.

    Garza is never coming back to the Cubs, especially given the loud rumors of him being an asshat for a teammate. And I doubt TheoJed sacrifice a 2nd round pick for the privilege of giving Jimenez or Santana a big fat contract.

    1. 70's Cub

      Yankees get Tanaka, at this point they are probably negotiating with themselves. My prediction at a total cost north of two 200 million with a 3 year player option. The Cubs need to open the season with another proven starter that can cover 200 innings, plus another Baker/Feldman type for the flip. The Flips, a haul for Shark, player draft, core player improvement, minor league promotions and another top five pick is what us Cub fans have to get excited about this summer.

      1. willis

        Sounds awesome. Man it’s a shame that’s all we can really look forward to with this organization.

  15. notcubbiewubbie

    i think the Tanaka ship has already sailed on the chicago cubs. i am not terribly disappointed,STICK TO THE PLAN!!!

    1. Cheese Chad

      The unfortunate part is that would be within the plan.

      1. ChicagoJoe

        It is within the plan to a certain extent.

        I don’t think there is evidence to suggest the plan is to completely overspend on an unknown commodity.

        At 5/120-25, he is within the plan even with not having proven himself against MLB talent. At 7/175, he is outside of the plan IMO. Maybe he doesn’t get that much and we still miss out. At that point, let the (unwarranted) crucifion of the FO begin.

        I can’t wait to see the thread from when he signs with the Yankees. I think BN may explode.

        1. cubman87

          Amen to that…

          1. willis

            If everyone just has a level head about it and faces the facts that the cubs never had a chance and won’t sign him, then it won’t be a surprise and everyone will be calm hopefully.

  16. notcubbiewubbie

    Especially when it comes to Garza,Sanatana.and Jimenez. those are jim hendry signings.

    1. Edwin

      I don’t think Jim Hendry signed any of those guys. Garza was a trade, and to my knowledge the Cubs have never had Santana or Jimenez, and I don’t think Jim Hendry signed them somewhere else after he left the Cubs either.

    2. half_full_beer_mug

      Do you mean Jim Hendry type of signings? Like the ones that got the team to more playoff games than most other GM’s of the team?

      1. notcubbiewubbie

        yea jim hendry type signings that never won jack squat. jim hebdry signings overpaying ridiculously for chokers and losers in the playoffs.

  17. NorthSideIrish

    For those of you who like the Prospect Lists, Kiley McDaniel from Scout.com released his yesterday (sorry if this was covered already)…he’s got eight Cubs in his Top 100, but more surprising was at the top. He’s got Almora at #8 as the Cubs top prospect, followed by Bryant at #10, and Baez at #13.


    In his reaction article, he says about people saying he had Almora too high:

    “Most thought I had Almora a little high as a top 10 guy, but when pressed, almost every scout conceded he’s a high-probability, quick-moving guy that conservatively has a ceiling of .280 with 15 homers and plus defense. Almora may not have the flashy raw tools of other prospects ranked this high, but those projected numbers are close to what Carlos Gomez did this year, posting an 8-win season.”

    1. half_full_beer_mug

      Interesting that there are no Angels on that list. There are quite a few others in the Texas league that I should be able see in Little Rock.

  18. cubman87

    I wonder how many teams he’s going to be reported as signing with, before he says Yes.

  19. woody

    There was a lot of back and forth yesterday on the controversial piece that Passan wrote. A few of the posts raised the question if the three 90 games or more loss seasons had damaged the teams ability to sign free agents. And now we hear rumors that the Cubs haven’t made the cut. And those of you who want to hold on to the hope that the reports from Japan are not true, go ahead and be delussional for a little while longer. Voices here have been saying for some time now that we didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell to sign him and now it seems to be the case. The whole Tanaka saga before and after his posting have consumed posters on all of the blogs for too long. I hope it’s over. Please let it be over! So we have a team with three consecutive seasons of ninety or more losses, with a FO that has been sending smoke signals that 2014 is in the toilet and in all probability 2015 too. I’m not bashing anybody OK. That’s just the reality of the situation. We have local boy, a hometown hero (Samardzija) who is uncertain that he wants to hitch his wagon to this team. Every asset has been traded for the last two seasons and in all probability this one too. Proffesional atheletes are competitors. The don’t like to lose period. At least I wouldn’t want a guy playing for me that wasn’t commited to winning. So in what world would a free agent want to come here now? Especially Tanaka. Big media market and people gobbling up his jerseys and gear. LA or NY are ideal. Two places he can probably pitch in the post season this year. So yes I think the srategy that has been in place has been like a double edged sword. It cuts both ways. The appearance of a .500 club may have given the impression that we were close to competing. Aside from the young guys under contract and guys looking to turn things around after injury or down seasons, who really wants to be a cub at this time? So yes we have re-stocked the farm in a very short time and have picked up some nice players through the draft. But at sometime we will have to shed this pathetic image that was already tarnished when Ricketts bought the team and resell the product to the fans, the public and most of all the players and the MLB estblishment, because as things stand now we are the laughable losers in hot pursuit of the number one pick in 2015.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Athletes are also like most people… THEY WANT TO GET PAID. Money will dictate where he goes nothing else. If we offer the most he comes here if NYY or LAA offers more he goes there. It’s not complicated. Follow the money.

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