New Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria is meeting with the media right now while on a Cubs Caravan stop (where, per the Twitters, it appears that Clark the Cub was once again well-received by the kids, so there). The questions naturally turned to Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, about whom we’ve suddenly heard a lot more positive vibes as they relate to the Cubs. Various beat writers shared Renteria’s responses on Twitter.
Renteria showed some candor (hooray! please don’t shut him down, front office!) in addressing the questions. Renteria confirmed that the Cubs have met with Tanaka (Mooney), and says he was a part of those meetings (Gonzales). Although he doesn’t know where things stand with Tanaka at this point (Gonzales), Renteria says the Cubs’ pitch to him included discussion about the up-and-coming young talent (Rogers). Renteria joked that he ordered Rosetta Stone language software after the meeting, just in case (Miles).
Other than a proposed contract – which, let’s be honest, remains the number one priority for most free agents – this is probably the best thing the Cubs have on which to sell someone like Tanaka. The team was one of the worst in baseball in 2012 and 2013, and does not appear immediately poised to contend in 2014. But, legitimately, things look exceedingly bright for 2015 and beyond (especially if the Cubs are able to land a huge TV deal in the near-term). Maybe that really appeals to Tanaka, who could be both a front-of-the-rotation star in Chicago (that’s the pitch, anyway), and a part of that very youth movement.
I still think it’s a stretch that the Cubs can get Tanaka absent a contract offer that blows other suitors out of the water, but they’re clearly trying very hard.