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masahiro tanakaAh, just what Cubs fans need: hope for a franchise-altering signing, days before the fan convention, when they’d already resigned themselves to the fact that 25-year-old Japanese stud Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t coming.

Yesterday, shortly after multiple pundits offered a sense – a fair one – that the Tanaka sweepstakes was down to the (big money) Dodgers and the (big money) Yankees, Jayson Stark offered something he was hearing at the owner’s meetings then happening:

So, in the minds of those “2 people” at least, the Tanaka dance wasn’t solely down to the Dodgers and Yankees. It’s not much, but it’s something.

And if that weren’t enough to get you wondering about the legitimate possibility that the Cubs could pony up for Tanaka, Ken Rosenthal hears that the Cubs are still pushing hard:

The Cubs, like those “2 people”, appear not to believe they’re out of this thing. The Angels, you’ll note, are still involved, according to Rosenthal.

As with Stark’s report, it’s not much, but it’s something. And you put the two together within a 24 hour span? It’s OK to be a little intrigued.

The cynical take, of course, was that, over the course of the last two days, Tanaka and his agent have seen cracks in his market – the Dodgers just committed $215 million to Clayton Kershaw, and might not want to lay out another $140 million; the Yankees could still try and stay under $189 million, now that ARod has been suspended; the Angels might not be as interested as Tanaka hoped; the Mariners have gone silent – and now there are leaks that are designed to remind the other suitors that there’s another big market team involved.

In the end, the Cubs will pitch Tanaka as aggressively as they can, and they’ll spend the money they’re able to spend (how much is available is, of course, up for debate). We’ll see if he’s actually willing to come to Chicago to be part of a rebuild for another year or two. Still feels like a long-shot, but at least there are some tangible bits onto which to pin your irrational hopes.

  • BenW

    Stop giving me hope Brett!

    In all seriousness, I’ll take this report as a positive. Doesn’t mean we will get him, but hopefully we have a chance to land him in Chicago.

    With Kershaw signing an extension, I have a bad feeling that next years FA SP class may consist of James Shields….and not much else. Scherzer, Lester, and Bailey all seem likely to sign extensions or stay put to me. Puts that much more pressure on us landing Tanaka if possible.

    • JB88

      Don’t forget Masterson. Seems like it might be tough to sign him, but I guess we’ll see.

      • BenW

        He would be solid, and probably has a higher probability of hitting FA. That being said, if Shields and Masterson are the two big fish, I can’t even imagine the prices they will command in FA.

        • JB88

          Once again why developing your minor league system is now a must in this NWO of baseball free agency. If you can’t develop your own starting pitchers or can’t use assets within your system to trade for them, you are going to be paying out the nose for mostly leftovers.

    • CubFan Paul

      I’m not sure the Reds can afford to extend Bailey

      They’ll probably make Latos the priority.

      • BenW

        Reds will definitely need to decided what kind of team they are. Spent 106 million last year, and if that’s their max, they will have huge issues with Votto starting to make 25 million in a few years. Latos/Cueto both probably around for next year, then FA. Bailey a FA next year. I would think if they extend Bailey, then Latos, they would let Cueto walk.

  • CubFan Paul

    If Tanaka wants to get paid, he’ll be a Cub. He hasn’t ran out of suitors, but there’s only one suitor left that appears willing to pay him Ace dollars ($16M-$18M AAV)

    • Edwin

      I’d think “Ace” dollars would be closer to $25MM-$32MM AAV. $16MM-$20MM is probably more 2nd tier pitcher dollars.

      • CubFan Paul

        Ace dollars for him. Yu got $9M AAV

        • Norm

          Yu wasn’t a free agent.

          • CubFan Paul

            No sh*t Sherlock…

            • Scotti

              Not needed.

              • CubFan Paul

                I thought so, since he had nothing intelligent to add to the conversation…like you

                • mjhurdle

                  to be fair, bringing up Darvish’s contract really added nothing to the conversation either.
                  Maybe he should have chosen to point that out rudely to you as well, instead of trying to engage you in a discussion.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “bringing up Darvish’s contract really added nothing to the conversation either”

                    I brought up Yu to *edwin* because Yu, like Tanaka are posted Japanese pitchers who are interested in getting paid double, triple, if not more than they have ever made AAV-wise.

                    It’s relevant but if you want to be a dick about because your feelings are hurt we can go there too instead of baseball.

                    • Lukas

                      Amusing. But wrong.

                  • Coop

                    It’s just jackass CubsFan Paul with his usual abrasive shtick…

                    • CubFan Paul

                      Don’t forget to tip your waitress;)

        • mjhurdle

          Babe Ruth got $80,000 in 1930.

          • hansman

            Just factoring normal inflation, that’s $930K today or the amount Koyie Hill was paid by the Cubs in 2010.

            • snakdad

              Welcome to the reserve clause. If it was still in effect, that would be the max salary today and tickets would cost 8 bucks.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                No, tickets and TV fees would still have gone up to about where they are: the people setting those prices take what they can get, and give as little as they can to the players.

      • mjhurdle

        agreed, ‘Ace’ money is much greater than 16-18 million AAV. that is probably low #2- high #3 area with the way the market is now.

  • CubChymyst

    I really hope this doesn’t go down to the deadline. Be nice if the Tanaka situation worked itself out quickly and even better if it gets worked out in favor of the Cubs.

  • Wrigley1

    I really believe rear with Tanaka in the rotation, and is I they keep Smarge, they can compete this year and be ready to spend and win in 2015. Even with a minor league system that is lacking impact arms, I still believe they can compete and be entertaining to watch. The Cubs have employed the scatter method for minor league talent. Some of these guys have to hit the target based on sheer volume of talent. So assuming you get something out of those position players and you have Tanaka, Smarge and Wood in your rotation…I think it’s very possible to compete soon.

    • BenW

      And a potential bounce back from Jackson. Rotation and bullpen could be solid.

      • Wrigley1

        I’m not buying my playoff tickets yet but I think the rebuilding is now starting to trend upwards. Baez and Bryant will start the year at Iowa I assume. They could very well be up by late June. I think that’s a key moment in the rebuild. If those two can play in the big leagues and if Castro and/or Rizzo bounce back then it’s a sign to ownership that it’s time to start spending money. Because despite what Jeff Passan says, it’s not “we will spend when we win” it’s “we will spend when we are ready to win”

        • Ron Swansons Mustache

          Highly doubt Bryant will completely skip AA but would still love to see them both up by end of the year.

          • snakdad

            He’s starting there this year. Don’t expect him to be there long.

            • Wrigley1

              yeah just saw that he’s starting at Tennessee. He could still skip Iowa and come right up. He’s more advanced than Castro was when he was at Tennessee.

        • Seth

          Jason Mcleod says Bryant will most likely start at Double A.

          Source: http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/20908/bryant-likely-to-start-season-at-double-a

  • JB88

    I don’t want to get overly excited, but add Tanaka to the mix and see some positive regression in numbers for Rizzo, Castro, and Shark, and add a Baez and/or Bryant around midseason and suddenly this team looks pretty interesting.

    If the bullpen improved the way we think it may have and the starting pitching offers more of the same from what it did last year, this could be a surprise team. Maybe not a playoff team, yet, but perhaps a team that could win 80 plus games.

    • JB88

      This is to say that the Cubs would need a LOT of things to fall into place, but adding a TOR arm and a couple good bats (and removing a couple bad bats from the line up midseason), could help the Cubs look a lot like Baltimore did a few years ago.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        The best case scenario for the Cubs is to enter into 2014 with a roster that looks, on paper, to be a .500 club. Tanaka, alone, in my opinion, doesn’t do that. There aren’t really any big bats to be added at this point, so that would be that (though I’d be feeling great about 2015).

        HOWEVA, adding Tanaka would certainly make you think again about those rumors that had the Cubs asking the Braves for Heyward or Upton in a Samardzija deal.

        • JB88

          I’m a bit confused by your post, Brett. My first post states that with Tanaka and Baez and Bryant appearing this is a team that “perhaps” “could win 80 plus games.” You respond that the best-case scenario “for the Cubs is to enter into 2014 with a roster that looks, on paper, to be a .500 club.”

          It reads like you are disagreeing, but I think we are actually saying the same thing. Perhaps my inclusion of Baltimore suggested I was saying the Cubs could win 90+ and be a playoff team, but that wasn’t my intent, more to say that the Cubs could surprise and contend, though not actually make the playoffs.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Yeah, I wasn’t really agreeing or disagreeing – just bouncing off of what you started with some thoughts of my own.

            • JB88

              Gotcha. It is funny, but after Tanaka, I think the next key to this season is whether Olt can grab the starting 3B job in spring training or not. If he can and can hit ML pitching, things suddenly look very interesting to me.

        • hansman

          I dunno, I think, on paper, the Cubs could easily have a league average offense. There aren’t any Joey Votto-types but there aren’t any black holes of suckitude. Add Tanaka to the rotation and the pitching should be better than league average.

          That should get us close to .500, barring any historical runs of terrible luck like April 2013.

          • Lou Brown

            Mr Barney, paging Mr Darwin Barney….

            • hansman

              He should regress to at least closer to replacement level at which point his defense will make up for it.

        • Kyle

          I’ve got them at a 74-win projection without Tanaka and 78-win with him. That’s a pretty nice difference. It’s enough that if you get good luck, you might be 3 over and buying instead of one under and selling everything not nailed down.

          It would simultaneously excite me to be that much better and frustrate me that we didn’t pair Tanaka with a strong outfielder to get ourselves to a .500+ projection.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            The problem is that getting a strong OFer would cost Shark. The FA market was pretty weak here this year, too: Els would have been great for two weeks before breaking himself on the bricks, Choo already needs to sit against lefties, and Granderson is is BJ Upton-lite.

            • Kyle

              I would have rather had Choo or Anderson than the excess IFA money and Veras. I think adds up, give or take, if you backload (which you always should).

              • DocPeterWimsey

                I would not have minded Choo for a little while, although his splits already trouble me deeply. However, he (like Els, Cano and McCann) wound up getting the “we’ll DH you later” contracts. Indeed, it really bears noting that most (if not all) of the big long-term deals of late to these early 30’s guys have been with AL teams.

                As for Granderson, I really do not know what ot make of him. His K-rate has been truly alarming the last couple of seasons.

                Really, the one guy that I would sort of like to see the Cubs snag is Stephen Drew *if* he’ll play 2nd. However, I’ve read that he wants to remain at SS.

  • Jason P

    I’m sick of the Cubs being “leverage”. Not that that’s probably going to change until they start winning but it still sucks.

    I sure hope this is more than that.

    • Spoda17

      If it’s a leak, I doubt it is by the Cubs. This is more of an agent leak to make sure the big two feel there are still other teams [the Cubs] willing to go to the mat for Tanaka. Trying to get as much of a bidding war as he can. Just like Sanchez and the Tigers last year.

    • Noah_I

      The amount fans overrate how much the players care about going to a team that is currently winning cannot be overstated. Tanaka will go where he and his people feel he can make the most money as a result of both salary and other media opportunities.

      • Jason P

        I generally agree that money’s the biggest factor, but do you really think the Cubs are going to blow the Dodgers and Yankees out of the water? When the money’s close, other factors come into play.

        • cking6178

          Jason, I agree with your statement…however, the question in this case is: What are those “other” factors? I think the only difference between the 3 (NYC, LA, & CHI) is the weather, with LA having the decided advantage. As somebody else posted in a different “Brett” article a few days ago, Tanaka is likely only going to be in his “home city” 81 days a year, the rest of the time he will either be travelling with the team or back in Japan. Anyway, I hope we land him, but I’m not getting too excited yet.

          • Jason P

            A story came out that his wife prefers LA. The Dodgers can also offer the immediate chance to compete for a World Series, though the Yankees might struggle a bit more to make that argument. The Cubs could of course offer him the chance to be the ace.

            It all comes down to his personal preferences, and so far, everything thats come out has indicated he prefers LA or NY.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Every negotiating team is leverage. Were the Cubs leverage for Sanchez getting a better contract from the Tigers? Sure. However, the Cubs out-negotiated several other interested teams: each of them was leverage for Sanchez to get a better “best offer” to present to the Tigers.

      When Tanaka signs, then all of the teams with whom he had serious negotiations essentially were leverage. Indeed, the signing team itself will be leverage if they have to top an offer that was made to top one of their earlier offers!

      • Jason P

        Being used as leverage is fine when the free agent who’s leveraging you actually has some interest in playing for you. Sanchez by all accounts had no interest in playing for the Cubs and used us simply to drive up the price for the Tigers. That may the case with Tanaka as well.

  • Randallm83

    As much as I want to think otherwise, this feels like a Cubs leak – to gain more fan optimistic (esp. since we’ve seemed all but out of it up until now), and drive attendance to the Convention. I want it to be legit… but I don’t know

    • Jason P

      I doubt people are going to change their plans and buy a ticket to the convention because of a couple, loosely-founded rumors. It would probably take an actual Tanaka signing for that to happen.

      • Randallm83

        Yeah, but they’re trying to sell season tickets, etc. too. It’s just our sense of Hope that’s been keeping things going these last few years. I think they’re feeling that sense of impatience and floating a leak or two out to a couple of big writers or executives to make it feel like we still have a shot at fielding a competitive team this year (Tanaka would at least have us looking at a possible .500 team).

        • NorthSideIrish

          They team has maxed out the number of Season Tickets they can sell, that money has already been paid, and there is still a six figure waiting list. Tanaka will be signed before individual tickets go on sale, so it doesn’t really help there either.

          • Randallm83

            Really? I didn’t realize they were doing so well selling tickets

            • CubFanBob

              Nod, season tickets have all been claimed at this point of the year. I was even surprised on the lack of great upgrades when I went in Nov. to look at what seats I could move to. There was less available in the 100 / 200 sections than there were in 2012.

    • brainiac

      yeah, this is more PR. i’ll assume, to be generous, that they’re making a concerted effort within reason. but they’re not going to get tanaka for a variety of reasons. the two biggest being that he would toil on a team that’s shaky about what it wants as an organization (he’ll go with a more stable win-oriented team), and the other being that someone or other will outbid the cubs, probably the yanks now that arod is banned for a year.

      i’ll be happy to eat my hat if i’m wrong! i really hope we sign him.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’m not sure I understand the upside in intentionally planting the idea in your fans’ minds that you’re going to get a stud when you know you aren’t. Given the state of things, that would actually be a horrible plan.

        If this is an intentional/non-legit leak, it’s come from Tanaka’s camp.

        • Randallm83

          My feeling (and just an opinion) is that similar to how news of optimism popped out from time-to-time as they *tried to land Yu Darvish, they can at least look back on this and tell us that they did everything they good, gave their best possible pitch, etc.

          I could be wrong, but if it were a leak by the Cubs, I don’t think they’d be damaging fan expectations if/when it doesn’t work out, because we’re being given the image of them trying everything they could. The timing is just a bit wonky to me, a little convenient. Maybe living in NY is just turning me into a cynic..

          • DocPeterWimsey

            But, again, the Cubs FO was never crowing about having tried hard for Darvish. All of the media attention was on how hard the Jays had tried: until the information leaked from Japan, it was thought that the Jays had come in second by a narrow margin, despite Anthopoulos’s adamant insistence that he never bid anywhere near $50M!.

            The Cubs and the other teams do not really want much leaked other than that they are interested. If Tanaka’s agent says “The Cubs are offering $XM: can you top that?” then the Cubs want the Yankees, Dodgers, Sox, etc., to think: “he’s/she/they is (are) lying, I don’t think that the Cubs are anywhere near that interested.”

            In the end, the team often finds out that the agent was not lying when they read that the FA signed with another team for something close to what the agent said they might. (And, of course, some times they find out that the agent was “exaggerating,” too!)

            Remember, for teams to be able to mimic negotiating the way that fans want to believe that they do, it would require massive collusion among the teams: and they would instead use that to drive prices *down*, not up!

            • Randallm83

              That’s a good point

        • cms0101

          Exactly. I don’t think anybody is running out to buy season tickets because Ken Rosenthal tweeted the Cubs want Tanaka. If this is a leak, it only helps Tanaka in that the Yankess or Dodgers may feel pressure to increase their offers. It would be interesting to know who exactly told Stark to beware the Cubs. We’ve got about a week to see what happens. I have a feeling season tickets will still be available when we know definitively if they get him, so I’ll wait to place my order.

      • brainiac

        on the contrary – it makes the FO look active and aggressive, instead of inert and confused. not succeeding leads back to the other PR branding, that “the plan is working”, and we just need more time before insane contracts are realistic. i tend to doubt that these owners will ever invest big money in veterans. maybe that’s the right choice, maybe it’s not.

        • Randallm83

          This is exactly what I was thinking, as well. I want to be wrong.

          After learning a bit more about the financial services industry, and now working in this environment – everyone is looking for a “deal”. Without knowing Tom Ricketts’ personality, I see a lot of that mentality being applied to the Cubs’ overall strategy. Ponying up, and knowingly paying a ton of money and outbidding markets like the Yankeess and Dodgers doesn’t jive with that mentality.

          I just don’t get the feeling that Ricketts is driving this ship with his heart, he seems to be driving it with his margin-driving brain. Even if he is a life-long Cub fan, it’s hard to re-wire your brain to start acting like Detroit or LA.

          • brainiac

            yeah ricketts isnt in it to win it. he’s in it to own it. and owning means profiting. for him this isn’t a public trust with 100+ years of history, it’s a business that needs austerity measures to increase the bottom line. he’ll bring in a don rumsfeld type character, who in his spare time gets hired to fire people and make businesses more svelte, and then they’ll outsource the team to rosemont and have the city build them a new stadium. and jed will be in charge of the parking garage.

            unless theo, a real baseball man, can change ricketts’ mind.

            • mjhurdle

              “yeah ricketts isnt in it to win it. he’s in it to own it. and owning means profiting. ”

              for the record, winning = more profit.
              So even if he was just in this for the money, he would still be trying to win.

              • Randallm83

                But attendance isn’t a problem for the Cubs, attendance has always been high – Apparently season tickets are already sold out for the year, and there’s a six figure waiting list.

                Why would spending a lot more – to win, make them exponentially more profitable, when he can keep the payroll and overhead as low as possible, and having fans just keep rolling in year after year for as long as he can get away with it?

                • hansman

                  [img]http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/2010/12/ron_santo_a_p.jpg[/img]

                  Just PACKED

                  • Randallm83

                    Over the last 13 seasons, the Cubs average out to being right around 7th or 8th highest in league in attendance, despite having one of the worst records during that span, per ESPN.

                    We’re an extremely forgiving fanbase

                • cubsfan08

                  Not true – I’m not old enough to remember it but in the 80’s and before that the Cubs drew like crap most seasons. It’s been a while – the rejuvenated neighborhood helps – but suggesting attendance will always be high is a poor assumption.

                  The Blackhawks would be a somewhat decent example – couldn’t find a ticket if your life depended on it in the 80’s, by the mid to late 90’s you might not see anyone in your section. It can happen.

                  • Randallm83

                    I’m not at all suggesting attendance will always be high – I’m suggesting that it’s not inconceivable that ownership would take advantage of the high attendance rates that the Cubs have enjoyed for the last two decades (near the top of the league, despite one of the worst records) – and keep costs low/margins high – for as long as they can continue to do so before the law of diminishing returns takes over.

                • mjhurdle

                  ummm, maybe because there is more profit in baseball than season tickets?

                  Attendance has been dropping as the Cubs have been bad. If we accept your idea that ticket sales are the end all be all of MLB franchise profits, then that alone should show that winning = more profits.

                  But beyond that, there is more profit in terms of advertising, media contracts, etc that pay good teams more money than bad teams.

                  The Cubs do have a large fanbase that gives them a larger cushion than other teams, but they are definitely not making more money as a bad team than they would have if they had been in the playoffs the last 3 years.

                  • Randallm83

                    I agree with you – maybe I’m not explaining myself clearly.

                    Payroll being equal – there’s no question that the Cubs would make way more money (attendance, partnerships, media deals, etc.) if they had been in the playoffs the last three years.

                    But if they had to spend an additional $40 Million in payroll for each of the past three seasons to bring that type of success, it would potentially affect their profitability. It wouldn’t guarantee that they would be bringing in $40 Million + in additional revenue each of those years as a result of winning.

                    I’m not questioning that winning equals more total dollars, there’s no question about it, it does. I’m questioning how many more total dollars that brings into the organization, versus the amount of spend it would have taken to make them a competitive team for the past 3 years. That’s all. Not arguing your point.

            • Randallm83

              Yeah – definitely see where you’re coming from. It makes me wonder back to why Ricketts went so far out of his way to hire Theo in the first place.

              If it was to sell hope to the fanbase, and to justify some “rebuilding” years (i.e. cheap payroll years) while the ticket sales and profits remained high – or if he really did want to hire someone intelligent who thought that the Cubs could really win by applying some moneyball type strategies

  • shlenny

    People over think things sometimes. FA ALWAYS comes down to $$$ first. Only if $$$ are equal do other factors come into play. Interesting about the opt out clauses in his agents recent negotiations. What if the Cubs offer $20M per for 6 years with an opt out after 3? That would make ~$27M over three years including the posting fee or ~$24M over 6, if he chooses to stay. Keep Shark until the deadline, and then unload him for pitching prospects. Sign FA pitcher next winter.

    • brainiac

      yes but if we let shark go and sign another pitcher, that pitcher will be more expensive and likely just as good/not as good as shark. this FO anti-loyalty to players who are working hard for the team is giving us a bad rep with other free agents. even if we’re green-lit in the near future we’re going to have to make an overpaid splash to convince other veterans that the team is serious, sort of like the nats did with werth. there’s a saying – “cheap is more expensive”.

      • Randallm83

        Totally agree with you… we’re not looking like a very loyal landing spot for future free agents. We’re seen as a great place to restore free-agent value/ showcase rebound players… not to land a big fish for the long-term.

        • hansman

          Oh, so Edwin Jackson was a rebound type?

          • Randallm83

            Edwin Jackson was a lottery ticket (that so far hasn’t paid any dividends)

            • hansman

              Oh, ok. So the player that debunks your theory is outside of it.

              The Cubs are looking to trade short-term assets. For someone like Tanaka, the player and the team knows that there won’t be trade discussions for half-a-decade and even on more “stable” teams there is enough turn-over that a team like the Cubs really doesn’t offer anything different.

              • Randallm83

                I wasn’t talking about the Cubs theory, I was talking about how we could likely be viewed, as a suitor, by free agents that we’re trying to woo. The flipping players strategy has helped net us some great prospects, but I just wonder how that makes us look to players, as a landing spot.

                Nobody was kicking down Edwin Jackson’s door before we signed him, I think we were forced to settle on him as an addition, because we didn’t have too many other options in the free market – with his type of upside. I think we rolled the dice, hoping that his ability to stick with one team would allow him to settle in and perform (but even if you look at the financials of his contract, it’s heavily front-loaded and potentially trade friendly, if he starts to out perform it).

                • BT

                  Jackson was considered a top 10 free agent going into 2013. Keith Law had him ranked ahead of Anibal Sanchez (incorrectly). He was not a scrap heap pickup.

                  • Randallm83

                    Yeah – I don’t consider him to be scrap heap material at all. See my post three lines below.

                    • BT

                      But still, a top 10 FA doesn’t really qualify as a lottery ticket or a guy you are forced to settle on, other than the fact that the Cubs would have preferred Sanchez. He was a legitimate addition who so far has not performed to expectations.

            • JadeBos

              A lottery ticket suggests a nonroster league minimum guy who has an shot at being an ace. Not 4/52 for a fairly consistent guy whose thrown 1200 inning of the previous 6 years
              Jackson had accumulated 13.7 WAR since he became a full time starter in 2007. 1157 IP since then when the Cubs signed him. Thats an average of 1 WAR per 84.5 IP as a starter. So at at 29 they paid a touch more than market value for a guy who looked like he could give them 2+ War per year as a starter.

              • hansman

                Basically, he is our generation’s version of Jack Morris.

              • Randallm83

                There’s really no such thing as a “nonroster league minimum guy who has an shot at being an ace”. I can’t think of an instance where that’s ever happened – someone signed for the league minimum, who then developed into a true ace. A flash of Ace potential is what the Cubs were signing him for – the hope that he could one day dominate on a more consistent basis (he does have dominant starts, similar to . That’s just what it costs in the free market for what is a more realistic chance of finding an Ace in the rough

                • JadeBos

                  Saying a 4 year 52 million contract is a lottery ticket makes you sound… uninformed.
                  At the very least its a horrible metaphor. The 1 million the Pirates gave Liriano is closer to what I’d call a lottery ticket and hitting the jackpot. There are tons of examples

                  • Randallm83

                    “Lottery ticket” was a horrible metaphor – my main point was to say that the Cubs signed him to that contract with the hope that his performance would improve – and that he’d capitalize on the flashes of potential he’s shown sporadically throughout his career.

                    Liriano is a great Cinderella story, but one good year does not an Ace make, especially with his history of injuries. He was also great in 2010 but then was a disaster the following two years. Most people think of an Ace being that workhorse type, which Edwin Jackson had shown the potential to be.

                    Needless to say, the signing hasn’t turned out the way the Cubs had intended it to.

                    This all started bc of my stating that it makes me wonder how the Cubs are being viewed by the free agents we’re trying to woo – since we now have a history of housing and flipping reclamation project (which was great for building our farm system, but hasn’t exactly branded us a place to come and try to win)

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “the Cubs signed him to that contract with the hope that his performance would improve”

                      I don’t know about that. I think he was signed for the 200innings

      • BenW

        I don’t agree…what major FA have the Nats signed since Werth?

        • MightyBear

          Rafael Soriano, Jason Marquis, Rich Harden

      • shlenny

        Wouldn’t the Tanaka signing take of this?

        • brainiac

          i hope so! but does anyone here seriously think we’re really going to get tanaka? even if we make the highest bid why in the world would he sign here when we’re so actively dissing our current #1 pitcher, who’s not even asking for that huge of a contract, considering market value? there’s no incentive.

  • Los_Capitanos

    Does anybody really think the Cubs are going to shell out that much money for a guy who has yet to throw a pitch off of a major league mound?

    They would be foolish if they did.

    • JB88

      I guess I’m having a hard time seeing where one draws the line in this sort of thinking. If the Cubs could have acquired Yu for roughly $115 MM, that would have been a good investment, right? If the Cubs could have acquired Puig for $40+ MM that would have been a good investment, right? Those were both guys who hadn’t played in the majors.

      The price of pitching has gone up, even since Yu signed. If the Cubs can acquire a TOR arm for nothing more than cash, have an opening, have payroll flexibility, and believe the investment is sound, why wouldn’t they do it?

      • Los_Capitanos

        “If the Cubs could have acquired Yu for roughly $115 MM, that would have been a good investment, right?”

        The Rangers got Darvish for half of that price. Thats not a good example, even though he is on track (after only two years) to have a better MLB career than ANY starting pitcher from Japan in the majors before him. That isn’t saying much.

        7 years $42 mil is a bargain for Puig.

        Neither of those deals come close to the $140+ million some dope team will shell out for Tanaka. The Cubs have just finished getting out of horrible contracts, they would be foolish to throw all of that money at Tanaka. It will not be a good investment and it will get Theo fired.

        • hansman

          With posting fees it was $115M on Darvish.

          $40M was bonkers crazy to spend on Puig when he had not seen an MLB pitch yet.

        • JB88

          You are ignoring the $51MM posting fee that the Rangers paid for Darvish.

          As for “getting out of horrible contracts”, there seems to be a difference of opinion between you and I as to what constitutes a horrible contract. Giving a $20MM per year contract to a 25 year-old is a lot of money, but it isn’t the same as giving $18MM per year to a 31-year old Soriano. It just isn’t the same.

          • Los_Capitanos

            Yes I missed the posting fee, my bad. Still doesn’t take away from my point.

            Your comparison in terms of money shelled out to Tanaka as opposed to Soriano in 2007 is a bad comparison. Also, they’re both bad contacts. When put next to each other, of course the 25 year old pitcher is the lesser of two evils next to the 31 year old.

            There is just not much anyone can say to convince me to get on board with the Cubs backing up the Brinks truck to sign unproven talent. Especially when that talent comes from a pro league who has sent exactly how many impact players to the majors? Yes, there is a lot of thought that goes into my thinking that whoever shells out the money to snag Tanaka, that they will be foolish in doing so.

            Of course, if the Cubs do sign him, as a fan I hope I’m dead wrong. Realistically though, I just don’t think it’s a wise investment. I don’t think Tanaka will pan out.

            • JB88

              Let’s start from the beginning then. What do you define as a bad contract? I don’t mean that flippantly; it is a serious question.

              Let’s assume for a second that Tanaka receives a 6 year, $120MM contract. When you add the $20MM posting fee, that works out to an average year payout of $23.33 MM. From a pure WAR standpoint, to exceed the value of that contract he’d need to post a 4 WAR per year. For comparison sake, 21 pitchers achieved a 4 WAR or higher in 2013 (Kershaw 6.5; Scherzer 6.4; Sanchez 6.2; Wainwright 6.2; Harvey 6.1; Hernandez 6.0; Verlander 5.2; Lee 5.1; Sale 5.1; Darvish 5.0; Holland 4.8; Fister 4.6; Shields 4.5; Latos 4.4; Price 4.4; Lester 4.3; Chacin 4.3; Iwakuma 4.2; Fernandez 4.2; Hamels 4.2; and Burnett 4.0).

              If it isn’t by WAR, what is the measurement?

              I don’t know if Tanaka is worth that, but, by many accounts, he is a No. 2, possibly better. If the Cubs pull that in for cash only, it seems like the return on investment could be pretty solid.

              • Los_Capitanos

                Well, WAR didn’t really figure into my reasoning in this case. But WAR is a great number to measure in terms of thinking contract.

                Thats exactly my point though. You have a Japanese pitcher commanding $140+ million and he hasn’t even taken the mound. We’ve seen this before with Japanese players. And I’m afraid the chances of Tanaka being another Dice K or Irabu are better than him being a Darvish.

                I hope that clarifies it. I just don’t think Tanaka is that good. He may have one season where he posts a 4+ WAR. But that will be it, other seasons will not quite reach that magic number. At the rate of $20M a year, that is a bad contract.

                • JB88

                  Dice K put up WARs of 3.8 and 3.4 in his first two seasons in the Bigs, before he was injured.

                  In Nomo’s first 6 years in the bigs he put up WAR seasons of 4.8, 3.7, 2.9, 1.0, 2.1, and 2.3 (in his seventh season he put up a 3.6 WAR).

                  Kuroda has put up 3.3, 2.1, 4.1, 2.2, 3.7, and 3.8 WAR seasons since coming over.

                  Uehara 2.0, 1.4, 1.3, .8, and 3.3, while almost entirely a relief pitcher.

                  Iwakuma put up a 4.2 WAR last year.

                  And Darvish has put up 4.9 and 5.0 WAR seasons in his first 2 years in the league.

                  The point is that Japanese pitchers have faired pretty well in the big leagues and have a pretty solid track record of success. It is a big outlay of cash, for sure, but I don’t know that it is the terrible investment you make it out to be.

  • Mr Gonzo

    Win Tanaka bid. Extend Shark. Sign Scherzer or Bailey next year in FA. The young Cubbie bats and arms start trickling up and producing. This team could fall together nicely over the next year. I’m hopelessly optimistic, but this scenario isn’t too crazy.

    • hansman

      That’s $60M for 3 arms. Yikes.

      • Mr Gonzo

        Very true, but the Cubs payroll will go up siib and it has to go somewhere. With so much cost-controlled talent coming up soon, why not lock up the top of the rotation for the beginning of the competitive window? $60M/year for your #1-#3 guys might not be so alarming in a few years time, when new TV deals are pumping up payrolls across the league.

        • Mr Gonzo

          siib = soon.

  • manklam01

    Bottom line is I do not think this team will hit enough this year. I really hope Mike Olt snags the job at third, so we can move Valbuena at 2nd. Offensively, I dont know if I can watch another season of Barney

    • BlameHendry

      Barney needs to go, but Valbuena needs to hit the road just as bad. Olt at 3rd, alcantara at 2nd to start 2014 (I know it’s not possible but I’m dreaming)

      • Noah_I

        Alcantara needs time at Triple A, and why is there any reason to rush him?

        And how does Valbuena get lumped in with Barney? Valbuena is a low average, high walks, average power hitter. As the left handed part of an infield platoon, he’s perfectly fine. FanGraphs had him at 2 WAR and B-R had him at 1.7 WAR last season in just 291 PAs. At third base he was a just below average hitter but elite defender. At second base, his .315 wOBA would have been 17th of 34 (if you add Valbuena in) 2Bs with at least 350 PAs.

        Is Valbuena the long term answer? Heck no. But the much better move for the Cubs long term is to start Valbuena and Barney in a platoon at 2B this season, and when Alcantara or Baez is ready move one of them to a back up role and trade the other (Valbuena should have much more value than Barney).

  • BlameHendry

    Well, the Cubs haven’t had their

    “OMG we just acquired a top-line starter!!!”

    “Oh wait LOL jk”

    moment yet this offseason. So I suppose this is an opportune time.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    The Angels say they aren’t in on Tank. The Dodgers just gave a heap of money to Kershaw. So maybe it’s New York and Chicago. Who knows?

    • BenW

      Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN 1m

      Angels continue to insist privately that they are not seriously involved to other teams in the Masahiro Tanaka negotiations.

      If that’s true, one less suitor sure helps the Cubs.

    • BlameHendry

      And the Yanks aren’t exactly “all-in” either, they’re trying to get under the cap to reset their penalty and they also aren’t entire sold on the idea that Tanaka is a safe enough bet. But the Dodgers still have more money than God and have already made a pretty clear indication that the Kershaw extension has no impact on their pursuit of Tanaka. In addition, Kershaw’s salary on the 2014 payroll is only $4 million ($18 million is signing bonus) so it’s pretty easy to see the Dodgers did that with the intention of leaving room for Tanaka.

      • CubFan Paul

        “made a pretty clear indication that the Kershaw extension has no impact on their pursuit of Tanaka”

        Not true, per Rosenthal, the Dodgers are already looking at 3rd tier starters

        “Sources tell me and @jonmorosi that #Dodgers still want another SP. Tanaka an ownership call. Arroyo on short list of possible alternatives”

        • mjhurdle

          “#Dodgers still want another SP. Tanaka an ownership call. Arroyo on short list of possible alternatives”

          looks like the Dodgers are still in on Tanaka.
          They might go with arms like Arroyo if they can’t land Tanaka.

          • CubFan Paul

            I read it as the Dodger’s owners probably aren’t willing to pay $20MM plus a year to their 4th starter.

          • Noah_I

            I think Arroyo’s overrated, but he’d be a really good pickup as a back of the rotation guy for the Dodgers. He doesn’t walk anyone, that ball park plays big at night, and two of their division rivals play in pitchers’ ballparks.

        • BenW

          The only problem is that after 2014, the Dodgers can clear nearly 50 million bucks by letting Beckett, Billingsly, Wilson, and Haren walk. With Kershaw/Greinke/Ryu already in the fold, adding Tanaka would only really cost them dearly this year.

          • CubFan Paul

            “the Dodgers can clear nearly 50 million bucks”

            They’ll still be over $189M with their arbitration guys (and Tanaka)

            • BenW

              Well, they are over that now as well. I don’t think that’s a limit for them. I was more saying they can clear a lot of money, not really raise payroll, and still be a top team in the NL. I think they will be a tax team going forward for many, many years. Even if they don’t sign Tanaka, if they want HanRam back, plus all their arb cases, they will most likely be over 189 anyway next season.

              • CubFan Paul

                Even the Dodgers have a limit (…like $20MM plus a year to their 4th starter)

        • BlameHendry

          Yes they’re looking at 3rd tier starters but Colletti’s comments made it clear that extending Kershaw doesn’t take them out of the Tanaka sweepstakes in any way.

          • CubFan Paul

            GM speak.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Yet another Cubs Top Prospects list…this time from FanGraphs. No real surprises at the top, but they’ve got Kyle Hendricks at 10 and Pierce Johnson ahead of Edwards. Plus Eloy Jiminez and Duane Underwood make the list…I love Underwood’s potential, but that might be a bit much based on his performance so far. And Neil Ramirez is #15, which again makes me feel good about the Garza trade.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2014-top-10-prospects-chicago-cubs/

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      We think very similarly, as you’ll see. :)

    • nate1m

      I like seeing Alcantara at 5. I sometimes feel like he’s overlooked

  • jp3

    Speaking of hope-trafficking, when is Kris Bryant’s ETA? I’m guessing Baez could be a mid season call up

    • BlameHendry

      Bryant will probably a 2015 mid-season call up at the earliest.

      • Rebuilding

        If Bryant isn’t up by September of this year then something has gone wrong. He’s a 22 year old, advanced bat. Those guys don’t spend much time in AAA, so assuming he hits as expected at AA it could be even earlier

    • Noah_I

      It probably depends to an extent on the Cubs’ competitiveness, how Olt does, how Baez does, and how Alcantara does. If the Cubs are surprisingly competitive in the middle of August, Bryant has killed Double A, is killing the PCL, and the Cubs have a hole at 3B or LF for whatever reason, the Cubs could call him up. Same thing could be true on opening day 2015. But odds are the Cubs will want to wait to at least get the extra year of team control (May 2015) to bring Bryant up.

  • V23

    All along, Tanaka had to be the “play” for TheoJed. I applaud them for not losing a 2nd Round draft pick for a Santana. I think the goal has always been Tanaka and I expect the Cubs to go all out. Tanaka would sell a lot of tickets and merchandise.

    Smardj-Tanaka-Wood-Jackson-Arrieta with a much improved bullpen, actually would be a huge improvement over last year.

    • itzscott

      >> Smardj-Tanaka-Wood-Jackson-Arrieta <<

      That rotation + the filtering in of Baez, Bryant, Soler and Almora to that lineup could be something special over the next couple of seasons.

  • itzscott

    If this is a bluff by Tanaka’s agent, of all teams why would he use the Cubs as the bluff when it’s pretty much conceded that Ricketts’ hands are tied financially until all those new revenue streams start kicking in and his debt service becomes a non-issue?

    Because of that I think it’s legit that the Cubs are pushing hard to ink Tanaka or the Cubs would never have been mentioned.

  • Mike F

    We will have to see how it shakes out now with Garza, Santana and the rest, but as history teaches with free agency you have down draft and up draft. I think the fall out from Kersahw’s monster deal is guys like Garza suddenly have the case to make they are 20M maybe a little higher. And I think the idea of even signing a guy like Maholm for less than 12 M has left station. Tanaka will reiterate this for people. He’s going to get more than 25M a year. Even more to the point in my view if the Cubs are going to sign Jeff, they have to now step up to buy the front with 20 a year on the back 3. Even Wood extending is going to look more expensive than people think. We’ll have to see, but Jeff is now more likely than ever to be traded.

    • Ron Swansons Mustache

      Kershaw’s deal has very little impact, if any, on a guy like Maholm. Completely different scenarios and pitchers.

  • waffle

    our odds are improving simply through attrition

  • Kyle

    The Tanaka buzz really has shifted, hasn’t it?

    Two possibilities:

    a) We’re getting used, a la Sanchez or Girardi

    b) We’re the leader in the clubhouse (which seems plausible if the Yankees want to stay under the luxury tax now that they can, and the Dodgers have finally hit their limit with Kershaw or want to save for someone else, and the Angels aren’t interested) and he’s just going to wait out the week to see if he can get others interested.

    • Jason P

      I really, really, really hope it’s option b.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    If we somehow used the publicity from Tanaka to sneak in and sign Kenta Maeda to a steal of a contract with little or no competition, I’d be okay with this whole debacle occurring.

  • Blackhawks1963

    The Yankees entire 2014 season hinges on acquiring Tanaka, hence they WILL acquire Tanaka regardless of what they have to pay him to get a deal done. The Yankees didn’t acquire Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran without the idea of competing in 2014. A current rotation of Sabathia, Kurudo and Nova isn’t enough…the Yankees know it too.

    What the Yankees WANT, the Yankees nearly always get what they want. They have zero choice but to get Tanaka. The luxury tax cap doesn’t matter to them.

    • CubFan Paul

      “The Yankees entire 2014 season hinges on acquiring Tanaka…The luxury tax cap doesn’t matter to them”

      Then explain Lyle Overbay please.

    • TWC

      “The Yankees … WILL acquire Tanaka regardless of what they have to pay him to get a deal done.”

      Oh, holy shit. You don’t say. I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned this before.

  • Blackhawks1963

    1. The Yankees want and need Tanaka.
    2. The Yankees desire to stay under the luxury cap

    BUT, number 2 won’t be permitted to get in the way of signing Tanaka. They have strong vested interest in not engaging in a bidding war — obviously. But if the Cubs or Dodgers go crazy and offer Tanaka $ X dollars and it’s going to be all about the $ for Tanaka, then the Yankees will invariably offer $ X dollars plus one.

    It’s also very clear that Tanaka wants to play in California or New York. Some of you want to downplay this persistent reality. Which is silly stuff.

    Tanaka was and is never coming to the Cubs. Period.

    • Jon

      January 24th…..January 24th….I keep repeating this date as closure to the Tanaka saga, and when you will finally stop copying and pasting this same narrative onto this blog every single day.

      • TWC

        You may be forgetting his infatuation with repeating his opinion on who the Cubs would hire to manage the team.

        He’ll find something else to cling on to. And repeat.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Indeed, it does make one think of a broken mp3!

    • mjhurdle

      back-to-back ‘Cubs have no chance’ posts without even changing to another login name?

      apparently the recent reports of Cub interest have gotten Blackhawks pretty riled up.

    • CubFan Paul

      So, what about Lyle Overbay?

  • NorthSideIrish

    Jon Morosi ‏@jonmorosi 56s
    Cubs owner Tom Ricketts declines comment on Tanaka, saying he must “respect the process.”

    Non-update update…but its nice to see the national media at least paying some attention to the Cubs when it comes to Tanaka.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I’m really curious if this report the Cubs “Pushing hard” for Tanaka is just lip service and just a PR to try and convince fans they tried as hard as they could. The only way we will be able to determine if they truly were all in on Tanaka is if the we here reports of the Cubs dollar figures. I want to know if Ricketts would be willing to give the $20million posting fee along with a $140million dollar deal

    • TWC

      “I’m really curious if this report the Cubs “Pushing hard” for Tanaka is just lip service and just a PR to try and convince fans they tried as hard as they could.”

      ::rolls eyes::

      Yeah. Being known as the perennial free agent runner-up (Cespedes, Darvish, Sanchez) has really done wonders for the fans’ esteem of the organization over the last couple years.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Sanchez had no interest in coming to the Cubs. He used use to up the bid from the Tigers.

        • TWC

          No shit, man.

          But that’s not the point.

          • Serious Cubs Fan

            I believe the FO wants Tanaka but I’m not convinced Ricketts is willing to fork over big time money to land. Even then Tanaka might take less from somewhere else to play for a contender.

            We were significantly outbid in the posting fee by the Rangers. Well worth the investment for them.

            Cespedes was a significantly lesser investment in term of dollars in terms of dollars. And the A’s offered a unique big league contract that would allow him to reach FA earlier then any other team was willing to allow him too. Thats why the A’s landed him.

            I have full faith in this FO’s moves but I’m starting to lose faith in ownerships, willingness to spend. I’m all on board for the rebuild. No point in the last 3 offseasons on splurging on aging, overpriced FA’s. I’d rather have the high draft picks with big time upside and futures to cost controlled players. I’m really starting to believe the debt restraints on the cubs are preventing the cubs FO from spending the way they want.

    • JeffR

      Yeah I’m sure they did the same thing with Sanchez last year. It will probably happen every year and us dumb cubs fans will just keep getting fooled year in and year out.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        I’m convinced the Cubs really pushed for Sanchez but he played us. He never wanted to come. We were a spring board for contract negotiations between his agent and the Tigers

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Again, most of the “leakage” will be from the agents or is nothing but speculation by other FOs. After all, no FO is going to be very straightforward about this sort of thing: the other FO’s are the competition where FAs are concerned.

      If we hear reports about the Cubs or any other teams’ offers, then they will be from the player or his agent(s). Agents in particular need players to hear these things: when you hear that a guy got multiple good offers, then this makes the agent look good to players in need of an agency.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I bet the Cubs will just be used as away for Casey Close (Tanaka’s Agent) to up the bidding from the Yankees and Dodgers.

    I feel bad for being negative but I have no reason to be positive, bc 2 owners said the Cubs aren’t broke and could afford to pay him. Its just chatter to me

    • DocPeterWimsey

      And the Dodgers will be used to get higher offers from the Cubs and Yankees, while the Yankees will be used to get higher offers from the Cubs and Dodgers, and Fictitious Mystery Team X will be used to get higher offers from all three teams as well as the Angels, M’s and anybody else involved.

      • blublud

        Hey Doc, you forgot about the White Sox, Red Sox and every other team in baseball not mentioned.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Doesn’t “Fictitious Mystery Team X” cover the ChiSox?

          :-)

          • blublud

            Oh yeah, I missed that. ;)

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