Ah, 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:
Brought up the name, “Tanaka,” to 2 people at owners meetings this morning. They both had the same response: Beware of the Cubs.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 15, 2014
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:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 16, 2014
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.