Sunday Morning at the Convention: Closing Things Down, Waiting on Tanaka

2014 Cubs ConventionThe 2014 Chicago Cubs Convention comes to a close today. I’ll have a great deal for you in the coming days about the things that were said, as well as my experience.

In the meantime, more Masahiro Tanaka stuff, because obviously. With a signing deadline of this Friday, and the need to have all of the t’s crossed and i’s dotted by then, we will probably learn of a deal – either the fact that he’s agreed to one, or (more likely) which team he’s selected – by mid-week. That’s just a couple more days after today for anyone who is calendar-challenged.

Yesterday, Bruce Levine reported positive signals throughout the day about the Cubs’ chances of surprising everyone and actually landing Tanaka, but Gordon Wittenmyer quickly offered a rebuff:

A couple of scouts offered similar takes to Dave Kaplan:

I think it’s fair to surmise at this point little more than we already thought entering into the weekend: the Cubs are very seriously pursuing Tanaka, are not putting on a show, and believe they have a chance – likely a very small one – of actually getting Tanaka. The headwinds, of course, remain the rebuilding state of the club, the potentially less attractive city in which the Cubs play, and a lesser ability to toss out perversely ridiculous money with the knowledge that if Tanaka busts you can paper over that mistake later.

Ultimately, to get Tanaka, you get the sense that the Cubs will not only have to offer him the most money, but will also have to convince him that joining this particular team at this particular moment in time is going to be special (which I tend to believe is a fair sales pitch). And Tanaka’s going to have to be attracted to the idea of being “the man” on his team.

There is a lot of chatter at the convention about specific numbers, and about how high the Cubs’ offer might be (some folks say it’s strikingly large). Jesse Rogers hears from a source that the Cubs could go as high as seven years and $25 or $26 million per year. Depending on where you look and to whom you listen, I’ve heard others mention a similar range, but I’ve also heard numbers much lower. As Rogers aptly points out, this is a particularly secretive process, and it’s hard to get solid information. I’d add that, given the strong incentive for teams to provide disinformation, and an agent’s incentive to drive up the price, it’s really hard to be sure what’s accurate and what’s agenda.

As for other suitors, a report out of Japan indicated that at least five teams – the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and White Sox – have made formal offers to Tanaka, each being for more than $100 million over six years. Although reports at this stage aren’t going to mention such things, you should probably prepare yourself for the fact that whichever team gets Tanaka is probably going to have to give him an opt-out clause halfway through the deal. It sucks, but it’s the price of playing poker.

Tick tock, and all that.

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

355 responses to “Sunday Morning at the Convention: Closing Things Down, Waiting on Tanaka”

  1. MichiganGoat

    It will come down to a simple thing – who shows him the most money.

    1. mjhurdle

      agreed. When you offer the most money, you gain the advantage of the agent trying to spin for you as well. So even if Tanaka cares about other things, if the Cubs come in at 10+ million more, the agent is going to lobbying for the Cubs at some level in regards to those other things, because the agent and agency want the extra commission.

      Hopefully the Cubs really do blow everyone else’s offers out of the water.

      1. Picklenose

        There are some considerations beyond baseball salary. Say the Cubs offer 22 mil a year and the Dodgers offer 20 mil per year. If the agent thinks he can get more than 2 mil a year more in endorsements, appearance fees, etc on a winning team in LA over a weaker team in Chicago, the agent should still be pulling for LA. Also, if his wife wants to be an actress/celebrity, his agent may also get some income from her being in LA (assuming, one agent represents them both, or some sort of arrangement between agencies). Of course if they are willing to gamble, getting a team their first championship in over a 100 years may make him more marketable than the same championship in LA.
        I don’t really know how that all plays out, but my point is that the biggest baseball salary may not be the biggest overall benefit to the player or agent, and they are likely considering more factors than simply the best contract numbers.

      2. ColoCubFan

        I’m just not sure that listening to the wife whine at you every day about “This is not where I want to live” is worth the extra $10 million.

    2. jp3

      Or the Kwan. Watching Jerry Maguire right now and it seems to be pertinent int this instance;)

    3. Voice of Reason

      It will be more than the money. The cubs have said they won’t be outbid. That means they will meet any offer. So, when the loveable losers are up against teams looking to win this year with track records of winning and spending big bucks to do so the cubs will not get Tanaka.

      He is not.coming here on hope.

      He won’t come here for the same reason girardi didn’t. We are up against teams with great traditions of winning and spending whatever it takes to win.

      1. Greenroom

        So, you are saying you don’t think Tanaka will be signed by the Cubs? How about you write the same thing over and over in different words and structure and see how that works haha

        I am feeling it. We get him, extend Alphabet, and Cubs players have bounce back years. Baez and “pick one” prospect comes up too. I just feel we are going to surprise some people, even the front office. How do I know all of this? I am connected to the universe. peace~

        1. DougTheBug

          Im really excited about this year, even if we dont land tanaka( i have a good feeling we might) i think we have a chance tp prove a lot of people wrong about this offseason, i mean yeah all the guys are small names but all have something to prove, i can imagine ruggiano or kalish to make a shierholtz like return

      2. jp3

        It’s all about the money

        1. snakdad

          I want Tanaka, but $175 mil for a pitcher who’s never thrown a pitch over here and has a lot of miles on his arm is idiotic.

      3. ClevelandCubsFan

        Girardi didn’t interview. If he was interested, the Yankees made it clear that there wouldn’t be an offer to come back to. And Girardi didn’t know for sure the Cubs would hire him or for how much. He hadn’t say down with management to assess sherbet it was a good situation. He was strongarmed by the Yankees to not even consider any other club’s offer including the Cubs. To compare Tanaka to Girardi is lame.

        1. ClevelandCubsFan

          Wow. … sherbet = whether

          1. hansman

            I dunno. I like a good say down with some sherbert.

        2. drcub1908

          Girardi is actually a family man with plenty of money. If he was single or if his kids were much younger, I am sure the Cubs would have him. He has kids in high school on sports and he is not uprooting his family.
          Strong-armed ? I seriously doubt that was the case.

      4. Joshua Edwards

        Oh look! It’s V.O.R. saying the same things as yesterday (and the day before (and before (and before)))!

        Nothing like repeating yourself ad nauseum to ensure the rest of us are sick of it. Time to clean vomit off the ceiling fan again…

  2. chifords2000

    I’ve seen at least one account stating that a scout was in on a discussion with Tanaka, so I suppose perhaps there are sources who have some kind of information. But, knowing these Twitter authors, those tweets don’t sound too objective to me. Wittenmeyer – pessimistic; Kaplan – optimistic.

  3. NorthSideIrish

    Retweeted by TomLoxas
    Ty Youngfelt ‏@TyYoungfelt 40m
    As of a week ago, Yankees have lowest bid, D’Backs, Dodgers within +/- 8M of each other…hearing Yanks adjusted/matched-Cubs +20-30 over

    Don’t really know this guy but Tom has re-Tweeted him a few times during this process…and you can’t put stuff on Twitter unless it’s true.

    1. baldtaxguy

      The “adjusted/matched” process of BAFO’s puts the Yankees in the best spot.

      1. Threat Level Midnight

        Actually this Ty Youngfelt dude clarified and said the Yankees matched the Diamondbacks, not the Cubs.

        1. MichiganGoat

          I chatted with Kaplan on twitter last night and he said the reported Diamondbacks offer would not beat the Cubs.

          1. baldtaxguy


    2. CubChymyst

      Ty youngfelt I believe is the guy from prosports daily (ABTY?) who posts all of the cubs information.

  4. baldtaxguy

    You mean….there’s a chance? :)

    I also would agree that the most cash should carry the day, and while reports are above average that the Cubs offer is high, whether its the highest depends on the BAFO process, i.e. will it be mutli-phased where essentially counteroffers can occur? It is all about the money, so I would guess very yes.

    Love it if he’s landed, but it is still a longshot. I’ll be pleasantly surprised, rather than bitterly disappointed.

  5. sethdiggs

    This is, hands down, the best spot I’ve come across for up-to-the-minute information that I can be confident is capturing all sides of the story, and the level-headed/concise perspective is just a bonus…appreciate the work, man.

    1. kj

      If the Cubs don’t land Tanaka what’s are next play? Do we go after Garza or Jimenez? We still need a pitcher and a good one at that.

      1. Threat Level Midnight

        There is no play after Tanaka. It’s him or bust.

        1. Cerambam

          After missing out on tanaka, the next play would be to trade shark, most likely.

          1. Jr 25

            I agree 110%. If we fail to land Tanaka, Shark will be traded to a team that will finally overbid for him. (Still hearing Toronto) To me Toronto still has the pieces to land Shark all Theo has to do is realize he’s not getting both Sanchez and Stroman. Toronto has a lot of very good 2nd tier pitching. If we can get either Stroman or Sanchez and 2 of the 2nd tier pitchers we would be in very good shape. I also see a return of Paul Maholm or a incentive laiden deal to land Johan.

            1. snakdad

              May as well start the year with Shark and move him at the deadline. His value won’t go down between now and then.

              1. ClevelandCubsFan

                See also: Garza, 2012

      2. Voice of Reason

        No Garza or Jimenez.

        Another horrible year at Clark and Addison but in the minors we will improve tremendously. In a couple of years this team will be ready to trade and sign some really solid performers for big bucks.

        Just have to be patient till then.

        I said it all along and I’m glad Tanaka is not coming.

  6. Blackhawks1963

    My prediction is Yankees 75%, Dodgers 25%, everybody else zilch. My viewpoint is that he REALLY wants to play for the Dodgers, but will go to the Yankees as the alternative.

    1. ClevelandCubsFan

      Blackhawks… got it. I’ll take the field. $1 pays.. what… infinity dollars? I’ll make it reasonable for you. My buck against your grand?

  7. Assman22

    All interested teams have submitted BAFO to Tanaka’s camp…Cubs have had highest contract on all three of their submittals…remaining teams all have very similar offers…still waiting for confirmation on Cubs’ BAFO…last I heard contract offer was in neighborhood of 6/125 plus posting fee, but Cubs were contemplating adding an option year…as I mentioned a few days ago, Tanaka decision is expected by Wednesday at the latest…not waiting til the deadline…

    1. Threat Level Midnight

      If that’s the case, then there’s nothing to talk about. The Cubs aren’t getting him beating the field by a few million.

      1. Assman22

        Allow me to re-phrase…last contract offer I heard was in neighborhood of 6/125 plus posting fee…still waiting for confirmation of Cubs’ BAFO…as of friday, Cubs were contemplating adding an option year…

        1. Threat Level Midnight

          Better be a doozy of an option year.

        2. college_of_coaches

          Thanks Assman22, your comments are always appreciated. And never mind the peanut gallery.

          1. Threat Level Midnight

            Peanut gallery? I’m not criticizing Assman’s info (or assman himself), just saying that if he’s right I doubt that offer will land Tanaka.

            Cubs need to blow everyone else out of the water and hanging around 6/120 or even tacking on an option year is doubtful to sway Tanaka our direction when every other factor is working against them.

            1. college_of_coaches

              Fair enough TLM. We’ll all have to wait and see. Again, thanks for the insight Assmann.

        3. kj

          If everything has been played close to the vest how is it everyone knows who bid what? It sounds to me like Tanaka’s agent is throwing out numbers to drive up the cost for Tanaka’s services. Sounds like the Annibal Sanchez saga all over again.

    2. DrReiCow


      When you say “Cubs have had highest contract on all three of their submittals…remaining teams all have very similar offers…” do you mean that the remaining teams have offers similar to each other AND the Cubs, or similar to each other, but markedly less than the Cubs?


    3. FullCountTommy

      An industry insider named assman, sounds reliable to me

      1. gocatsgo2003

        You must not have been around here for a while.

        1. FullCountTommy

          I have, and it amazes me people think it’s legit.

          1. Assman22

            Feel free to look up when I post and then when the news comes out later in the day or days later…couldn’t care less if you feel I’m legit or not…your opinion is what it is…

            1. FullCountTommy

              Agreed, nothing against you personally, it’s just that every rumor I’ve seen you throw out there hasn’t happened. I haven’t seen every one so I could be wrong, but every one I’ve seen hasn’t been even close to correct.

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                Actually, Assman has a eerily good track record.

              2. hansman

                There is a thread on the message board surrounding this very topic. I’d recommend you check it out.

                Some of the details may not be exactly correct but overall he’s pretty good.

                1. FullCountTommy

                  Thanks for pointing me in that direction hansman. It seems there are a lot of posts that are coming from a “fake” assman and those are probably the ones I have seen. I was quick to criticize, but hey, with some of the people on this site, it’s pretty easy to do so…

  8. iowastate89

    I am following this, but after being “burned” by the Dempster and Girardi rumors over the past few years I am assuming all these are low probability vs getting hopes up!

    1. baldtaxguy

      Being cautiously optimistic here should not be based on the past – always wait to count those chickens before they’re hatched.

  9. woody

    So it comes down to him signing with a bad team. And truthfully what successful player wants to sign with a bad team? This has been the problem in resigning Samardzija. The stategy that has been employed has many flaws, although admittedly it has bought in some nice prospects, but it has put this team in the laughable company of the Astros. And now when the right player comes around we may lose him even though we have out bid everyone else. Often times an image or reputation damaged is a stuborn thing to reverse. My question is what happens if our offer that beats all others is rebuked? How will fans feel this year knowing that trade deadline sell off of the last two years has damaged our credability within the ranks. Among the players, to the point that any top free agent that isn’t nearly over the hill age wise, would find the Cubs an attractive place to spend the next 5 years. Everybody is salivating at the prospect of having Tanaka and being competative in 2015. But if it turns out that he signs somewhere else for less money we are screwed. More than likely we lose the Shark too, as he doesn’t like the “R” word. He hasn’t drank the Kool-aid. Everyone knows that this season is down the drain, but whether or not 2015 goes down the drain as well hinges on one mans decision in the next couple of days.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Cubs have a brighter future than the Yankees they are drowning in old bad contracts (ARod sure helped) and if they lock him up to a massive contract then they are going to have to exceed the luxury cap for years to stay competitive and on the Dodgers he’s their 3/4 starter. Regardless it’s about the money but to say the Cubs don’t offer him a competitive opportunities is rather pessimistic. As more money comes in (TV contract, advertising), prospects appear, and they sign more players in the upcoming years the Cubs future looks much better than the Yankees future looks. He and his agents are thinking about more than next year.

      1. Voice of Reason


        Stop being so naive. These are the cubs. Perennial losers. They are the Yankees. They will do whatever it takes to be competitive.

        Why didn’t girardi come here? Foe the same reason Tanaka will not. He wants to play for a team that is ready to go for it in 2014. A team that will do and spend whatever to win.

        1. Ron Swansons Mustache

          Girardi is a manager who has spent years with the Yankees. Tanaka is a 25 year old pitcher from Japan. Tanaka may go to NY but that comparison is awful.

        2. Threat Level Midnight

          The Yankees will always continue to reload, true, but even with Tanaka that’s not a very good team they’ve got there at present. They’re going to be relying on significant bounce back years from some awfully old and injury-prone guys in order to make a realistic run.

          Even with Tanaka I don’t see them getting a wc slot right now, let alone winning that division.

          That said, compared to the Cubs current roster, yes, the Yankees have a better shot of making the playoffs. So I’ll give you that.

        3. baldtaxguy

          Not sure Girardi’s decision means anything here.

        4. Greenroom

          VOR, Stop being such a pessimistic naysayer. We get it. The Cubs suck, Tanaka is not coming. They Yankees are great. We should have a “bet”, what do you say? One of us will have to change our picture for a week. If you are right, I will change my image to a picture of your choosing. If I am right, you will need to set up your profile and have a picture of the Cubs new mascot for a week. Deal?

        5. MichiganGoat

          VOR this dumb comparison didn’t make sense yesterday and it makes even less sense today. Tanaka doesn’t care about the Yankee history he is making his choice for the money plus the Yankees don’t have a promising history. Eventually all the bandaids they keep signing will rot them to the point they need to rebuild and strip some of these contracts.

        6. DocPeterWimsey

          The problem is that the new CBA has limited even the ability of the Yankees to be competitive. Moreover, people forget that a lot of the Yankees’ strength over the years was in having good hitters at “skill” positions (Jeter, ARod, Sori/Cano, Williams/Granderson, Posada): they were able to rebuild quickly by adding strong corner-OF and 1B bats, where were reasonably abundant under the old CBA. And, of course, they grabbed good SP when it became available (Mussina, Sabbathia).

          The Yankees now need to fill skill positions. They got McCann and Els, but they are hurting at 3B, 2B and (probably by now) SS. Their rotation is hurting, and more than one good starter away from being competitive.

          This also is where the Yankees woeful farm system is biting them hard in the nether regions: they simply don’t have miLB talent to trade for a good 3Bman or 2Bman, or for a good SP.

          It all comes down to this: yes, the Yankees will try to buy everything in the store. However, they are shopping in aisles with empty shelves right now despite their big shopping list.

      2. TanakaWillBeACub

        I gree Michigangoat hes not going to the Yankees or the dodgers its the cubs why don’t you just realize it is going to happen before the deadline the cubs will blow the Yankees and dodgers out of the sorry to burst your bubbles but its going to happen

        1. woody

          Check your shirt, I think you spilled some Kool-aid on it.

      3. sethdiggs

        Agreed. Anything less than a rebuild of this magnitude would have been a different version of the Hendry years, i.e. flashy but phony, especially in the sense of any sustained success. So, while everyone points to our real-time competitiveness as the major obstacle, it isn’t something we could have avoided. Our main carrot for Tanaka is our future, which would likely be quite a bit darker had we kept the band-aid on. I recognize it is, and should be, hard to invest in speculation, but there is plenty of consensus out there.

        Regardless of whether or not we get Tanaka, the Cubs’ approach, alone, is just about the most telling thing this generation of management has done. Everyone has brought willingness, resources, etc. into question, but squandering money at the wrong time is the primary thing we’re trying to get away from. The unique situation of Tanaka’s age makes this possible. Otherwise, we’re simply not there yet. Despite the FO spelling it out as plainly as possible, there are still those who don’t seem to understand this is a process with many variables that have to fall into place at the same time. Because it’s dynamic, one thing can throw another off, timing may be extended, etc. This, for the skeptics, is finally a glimpse that the aforementioned willingness is there. If we get him, I’ll be as pumped as I’ve been in years. If we don’t, then we can be more confident in the upcoming pitching market, whose prices should tempt plenty of big names to enter.

        1. Kyle

          So what you are saying is that Epstein couldn’t *possibly* have built a strong organization more slowly. That all this stuff about hiring new scouts and installing new processes is hokum, that only trades and money improves the farm system?

          1. sethdiggs

            What I’m saying is their approach is necessary. Without it, our future would look different, e.g. Bryant. The speed at which they build this thing is not nearly as much of a concern as the quality and endurance of the product. What they have done to this point demonstrates they are sticking to that mindset, and pushing for Tanaka shows they will supplement with big signings when their farm is mature. Because of his age, it works. Other free agents that would’ve given the facade of a winning team, like those that Woody’s comment seems to endorse, aren’t going to cut it anymore.

        2. sethdiggs

          Agreed with Goat that is

          1. RoscoeVillageFan

            If the rumors are true, then the cubs have essentially done everything to get him. The nice thing at least is that if we get tanaka, it’ll basically be affirmation that the FO is going to try and get us competitive ASAP. No complaints from me no matter how it ends up

      4. jp3

        Is it me or is their a lot of hating going on over this situation? I think it’s all about the money… Cano is a prime example, Seattle is terrible and he went there because the Yankees offer was disrespectful to him. I really think so much of this boils down to players’ agents and how much they bend their clients ear. They are commissioned based, why would they not push for biggest deal?

    2. baldtaxguy

      “So it comes down to him signing with a bad team. And truthfully what successful player wants to sign with a bad team? This has been the problem in resigning Samardzija.”

      No – its about the money. Always.

      1. Boogens

        Agreed, BTG. Another example to support your position? Cano signing with the Mariners. Seattle was a miserable team last year and Cano followed the money.

    3. rcleven

      Why are the Cubs screwed? One person is not going to turn this team around. It’s back to the drawing board and it happens a little slower.

  10. Diehardthefirst

    His breaking stuff will flatten when the wind blows in which is more than half the time. In Seattle the sea level atmosphere will make his stuff harder to hit assuming his dead arm can get it to the plate

    1. baldtaxguy

      I particularly enjoyed this one, keep them coming. The work visa one from yesterday was gold as well.

      1. Lou Brown

        And the Cano restructuring the contract he just signed. That one was priceless. I want to spend an hour in diehard’s world, it certainly isn’t the one the rest of us live in.

    2. DarthHater

      Wait a minute. I thought the new Wrigley jumbotron was going to block the wind from blowing in?

  11. Having Faith

    When Theo and Jed came on and said it is going to be tough for the first couple of years, this is what they were talking about. How come then when it is tough, people are upset or surprised. Majority of the people supported Theo and Jed when they pretty much came out the first year and said we are going to strip this down and rebuild it so it can last. Everyone said Yaaay! Then during the process people start questioning.

    Trust the process.

    1. Scotti

      “When Theo and Jed came on and said it is going to be tough for the first couple of years…”

      That never happened.

      1. half_full_beer_mug

        Let the revisionist historians have their fun.

      2. DocPeterWimsey

        Epstein was pretty blunt in his opening press conference: the organization needed to be rebuilt from the ground-up and it was going to be a multiyear process. The MLB roster was bad and getting worse, and the miLB rosters were unimpressive.

        1. Kyle

          Epstein’s early press conferences were full of meaningless doublespeak. No matter what he did afterward, it could have been found in those quotes.

          1. Rebuilding

            True. He did what every good CEO does when taking over a struggling organization – Talk in doublespeak gobbledygook about the present and the future. A little something for everyone. You see it every day on CNBC. No matter what the plan was did anyone expect him to say “This organization is complete trash. On our 25 man roster we have maybe 3 guys worth having when we’re good. We plan to only sign one decent free agent over the next 3 years. The people we do sign will all be rehab, flippable assets that we’ll try to dump at the deadline. This should ensure high enough draft picks to secure impact, cheap talent. Thank you very much, I’m happy to be in Chicago”

    2. Diehardthefirst

      I see Jed leaving this year to be top guy elsewhere

  12. TanakaWillBeACub

    diehardthefirst hes not going to seattle so quit posting stuff about how hes going to seattle give it a damn rest already

  13. Kyle

    Imagine if the Cubs had actually pursued a dual-fronts strategy from the beginning. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about lack of competitiveness keeping Tanaka from being interested.

    I still maintain hope because all the reports seem to be converging on Cubs overbidding the market, and that athletes always insist it’s not about the money right up to the point most of them take the money.

    1. ari gold

      Yeah so we could have won 72 games! Whoopie!

    2. MichiganGoat

      I know what your arguements on the dual fronts is and are, but I think this was the plan Epstein wanted all along. Strip the team of all old bigger contacts, build the farm with top draft picks, and now sign a 25 year old pitcher as more money starts to come in (advertising, TV) and start spending money from this point on. Most of it depends on a majority of the Big 4 making it in the next few years and balance that with big signing FA. It isn’t what you think should have been done but if we sign Tanaka their will be a dramatic shift in how the Cubs handle signing top name FA perhaps even making splashes in the upcoming trade deadline. It’s been a rough couple years but it wasn’t on accident or because Ricketts didn’t have the money- it’s because this is what everyone planned on doing.

  14. Ron Swansons Mustache

    Yes, a dual-fronts strategy that may have left us burdened with contracts that don’t make sense and might have left us without the flexibility to make Tanaka the best offer we can.

    1. Kyle

      Or it might have left us with 800k more attendance last year and the money to make an even better offer to Tanaka and grab another top FA too.

      1. ari gold

        So you think winning 10 more games would have done that? I think that’s optimistic at best.

        1. Kyle

          So you’re saying that Theo Epstein, supposedly one of the most brilliant minds in the game, would have been unable to win more than 76 games in this second season if he were putting his full efforts into winning?

          I have more faith in him that that.

          1. ari gold

            I’m saying the organization that was left to him was so horrible that it would have taken a lot of luck for any GM.

            1. Kyle

              That’s ridiculous. You can do a lot with a baseball team in two full offseasons. And 76 wins is not that many.

          2. Jason P

            One thing you have to keep in mind – payroll restrictions. I’d imagine there wasn’t a whole sea of dollars Epstein left unspent in either of the past 2 offseasons.

            1. Kyle

              And what was spent wasn’t always spent optimally or with present value in mind.

            2. Jason P

              Id say it was spent pretty well. Maholm, Feldman, and Schierholtz have all been great dollar-for-dollar additions. EJax still might be and Fujikawa might have been as well if he didn’t get injured.

              There have also been a *ton* of big money free agent busts the past few years.

              1. Kyle

                You can take one look at their record and conclude it wasn’t spent well enough, no matter how nice a few of their best moves may look.

                And of course I can point to the money wasted on Ian Stewart, Gerardo Concepcion, Scott Baker, Scott Hairston, etc.

                1. Jason P

                  Even with the benefit of hindsight, I doubt you could reallocate that money effectively enough to create an above .500 team

                  1. Kyle

                    That’s absurd. .500 is not a particularly difficult barrier to reach. With hindsight, I could leap past it without looking back.

                    1. noisesquared

                      The 2013 team could easily have been .500 at the trade deadline with an average bullpen and Castro being anywhere near his career norms offensively.

                    2. noisesquared

                      If the Cubs do manage to land Tanaka and were then able to move some prospects for a legit bat in the OF, what does the outlook for 2014 become? Add Tanaka and a bat, anticipated improvement from Castro/Rizzo/Shark/Jackson, contributions from the prospects (Olt/Baez/Alcantara), and with an improved bullpen, .500 becomes very realistic and 85 wins aren’t out of the question.

                    3. hansman

                      With hindsight, I sure hope you could build a .500 team (and stay under a $100M payroll).

                    4. Jason P

                      With payroll restrictions, it’s a whole lot herder than it sounds.

                2. Tommy

                  It’s easy to run a baseball franchise from your mom’s basement. A little harder to do it in reality.

                  1. YourResidentJag

                    Wow, the absurb comments are strong here.

                    1. YourResidentJag


                  2. Kyle

                    Of course. But he was giving me hindsight. That’s basically god powers. I could get to 100 wins every year with a $80m payroll and full hindsight.

                    1. Jason P

                      The Cubs spent around $30 million on free agents in 2013 and $15 million in 2012. Let’s say those free agents provided the Cubs about 7 wins each season. So without them the Cubs would have won 55 games in 2012 and 59 in 2013.

                      Essentially you are starting with a 55-win team. You have $15 to spend in the 2012 offseason and $30 million in 2013. You tell me – you think you can find 26 WAR?

                    2. hansman

                      With hindsight you can easily build a winning team. It allows you to replace any underperformed with any over performer.

                    3. Jason P

                      Last year, one of the biggest steals in free agency, Francisco Liriano, posted a 3.1 WAR for about 6.5 million. Even if you could maintain that pace for all $45 million you had to spend, you’d still be left with just 7 players for 21.7 WAR — still we’ll short of 26.

                    4. Jason P

                      Even if it was possible, it would actually take time and effort to construct an alternate scenario that would have made the Cubs a .500 team. Kyle’s asking for that and more from the Cubs FO *without* the benefit of hindsight.

                      Essentially, he’s asking for the impossible.

                    5. Kyle

                      First, for the purposes of “what should the front office do,” we don’t have to treat each season as a separate iteration. If they had done their jobs better in 2011-12, then they would have had a better base from which to begin in 2012.

                      Second, using actual wins for teams that had fire sales is silly in the extreme, and I think you know better.

                      Third, you are *really* overestimating how hard it is to get to .500 and how many bargains there are every year. Liriano was a bargain? Sure. How about Marlon Byrd (4.1 WAR on a minor league deal), Plus, if I’m getting godlike hindsight, I can avoid negative WAR players.

                      Nothing I’m asking is impossible, or even close. Every year that goes by, the levels of talent the front office started with has to be understated more deeply and the difficulty of building a .500 team has to be exaggerated more extremely in order to justify what they’ve done to date. By this time next year, they’ll have taken over an expansion team with $500m in bad contracts in a league where only 3 teams make .500 each year.

                    6. Jason P

                      Okay, so I’ll admit my hindsight argument was a reach. But it was an extenuation off my bigger point with which I still agree.

                      There are some moves I haven’t agreed with that the front office has made the past couple years. I thought trading Soriano wasn’t a very good move. I think the production he would have provided this year is more valuable to the team than Corey Black.

                      But at some point it has to be realized that 30-something free agents on big, long-term deals aren’t going to do much for you when you don’t have any semblance of a homegrown core in place.

                      I know you’ve argued in the past that baseball is too high variance to completely tank on seasons, and while I generally agree, the Cubs were far enough away the past few seasons that no amount of luck was going to get them to the playoffs. I know they had the positive run differential at one point before the trade deadline, but their post deadline collapse was as much to do with the fall-offs of Jeff Samardzija, Anthony Rizzo and Luis Valbuena as it was with the departures of Feldman, Soriano and Garza.

                      Yes they could have added a few big-name free agents to boost their odds from 0-5%, but adding those kinds of players who are literally expected to decline right when you are hitting your projected window of competitiveness is not a good way to run the team.

                      That’s before we consider that the funds may not have been there even if Epstein wanted to approach the rebuild that way.

                      The Cubs organization may not quite have been in shambles when Hendry was fired, but it was pretty darn close. The young ML talent base was pitiful.

      2. Ron Swansons Mustache

        Again, who are these players we should have locked up? Darvish (bid from Texas reportedly blew everyone away), Puig (everyone thought LA was nuts for giving him $42 million), Ryu (we reportedly came in second) and Cespedes (who wasn’t even very good last year) I’ll give you but you can’t expect a team to go 4-4 on international guys like that. Who are these other free agents that would have came here that would have made sense? We can agree that it would have been an ideal scenario but given the state of the Cubs at the major and minor league level it was not at all realistic in my opinion.

        1. Kyle

          And again, it’s asinine to ask for complex alternative histories through three offseasons of baseball.

          1. Ron Swansons Mustache

            No, it’s idiotic to beat a dead horse constantly about a pie-in-the-sky theory that was not realistic and was never going to happen. That’s exactly why you speak in generalities and nothing more

            1. Kyle

              I was giving detailed explanations of what we should have done before Epstein was hired. I gave them while he was doing it. I gave them after.

              There’s a point where it gets tiresome to constantly have to re-do them for every single person who jumps on the rebuilding bandwagon and shows up.

              1. Ron Swansons Mustache

                Well maybe you should create a Google doc of your brilliant plans for us newbies to refer to who weren’t fortunate enough to see your insights as they occurred in real time. If you don’t want people to question posts you’ve made on a public forum because it’s tiresome than perhaps you should stop posting the same thing over and over.

                I’ve been a fan forever and have been on board with the rebuild from the beginning so there’s no bandwagon involved here.

                1. Kyle

                  Or maybe people should stop going with the ridiculous idea that combination of available players over two or three offseasons creating a competitive baseball team is some kind of unicorn.

                  1. Ron Swansons Mustache

                    Creating a competitive team when our prospects are ready and those free agents are not overpaid albatrosses is. The reason you do not provide examples is because there are very few , if any.

                    1. Drew7

                      “The reason you do not provide examples is because there are very few , if any.”

                      A quick search through the BN archives will show that he gave in to the request many, many times.

                  2. Adventurecizin Justin

                    Kyle, they were competive in their offers to Darvish, Ryu, & Cespedes. Their dual approach was affected by none of these guys taking their offers…and Plan B was never to be desperate on the FA market, which makes sense to me. I admit, they do need to be better at getting their man. I hope Tanaka brings their AVG/OBP/OPS up!

              2. Adventurecizin Justin

                Had any 2 of Darvish, Ryu, Cespedes, & Puig signed with the Cubs, I think we would have seen a more dual approach. In fact, that was their dual approach, and it didn’t work out. What they’ve done since has shown me that they can and will develop from the ground up.

                I think they have been wise not to invest in free agency right now. They have not been perfect, but they have proven to create winners. Hindsight is 20/20…I see promise & progress in my foresight.

                I give you props, Kyle, in that you do say positive thing…once in awhile!

                1. sethdiggs

                  Exactly, Justin. Hence my earlier post: “Because it’s dynamic, one thing can throw another off, timing may be extended, etc.”

                2. hansman

                  If Darvish was posted under this system, I have little doubt he would be in a Cubs uniform right now.

                  1. Diehardthefirst

                    Wrong again- see my last post

                  2. DocPeterWimsey

                    Do you know, I’m not positive about that. The Rangers were really desperate to get Darvish: and although it’s easy to forget now, they were acting with the irrationality that only a team that gets within a strike of winning a WS can achieve.

                    Now, obviously it would have been a lot closer (and Darvish himself would be getting a lot more money) if the Cubs (and Jays and Sox and Yanks) had been able to get their hats into the ring: but I think that the Rangers were crazed enough to outbid everyone at that time.

      3. hansman

        Eh, a lot of the top-ish free agents from 2012 sucked last year and we would be looking to reload again this year to replace them. A lot of the top-ish free agents in 2013 sucked last year.

        The only 2012 free agents that didn’t suck last year (and were at positions we would have signed guys at (provided we aren’t counting the guys that were in the 3rd tier which is a crap-shoot)) were Coco Crisp and Carlos Beltran. Both of which became free agents this year.

        Unless you get insanely lucky year in and year out with free agents, it’s really not this great panacea.

        What the Cubs needed was to not have the Rangers go nuts on the Darvish bid (had they guessed with everyone else who knows), have been more willing to trust Cespedes agent that the A’s had a 4-year offer and be willing to give up those 2 years of control (even then, he wouldn’t have helped much last year) and be just as insane as the Dodgers were (and then just as lucky) on Puig.

        As it was, the 2012 team needed Byrd and Soto to remember that their job at the plate was to hit the round object being hurtled at them and kept Ramirez. Even if we got Puig, Cespedes and Darvish the 2013 team needed more of Rizzo’s singles to fall in for hits and have a modicum of luck in getting the right sequencing of hits in April and May. Provided we kept Ramirez for a 3 year deal, we also would have needed a 3B last year.

        THEN, they shouldn’t have sold off anyone and everyone who was to be a free agent and had trade value. That, probably, would have led to a .500 record each year and a farm system that had Baez, Almora and Soler but less depth (still would have been strong) and a larger payroll with guys that are paid a lot to provide a little WAR.

        Then we wouldn’t have to worry about Tanaka believing we are contenders. Granted, we might not be able to afford him (if the covenants of the purchase agreement are correct) but we would have had a close to .500 record the past two seasons.

        This isn’t absolving Theo of putting out teams that were (pre-selloff) 70 win teams but they haven’t been not trying.

  15. Diehardthefirst

    Rooftoppers will scream if Cubs have money to sign Tanaka but no money to honor a contract.

    1. wasssssup

      I usually laugh when you comment. Mr. Diehard this is absurd.

    2. Boogens

      What money do the Cubs need to honor the contract with the rooftops?

      On the other hand, If you’re a rooftop owner you’d welcome the signing of Tanaka if it brings more people out to the neighborhood.

      Do you just throw stuff out there to troll, do you attempt to think through any of your posts before posting and do you really believe the stuff you post?

    3. Patrick W.

      Doozy. The Rooftops pay the Cubs

      1. Diehardthefirst

        Cubs complain that Rooftoppers contract is hurting revenue and yet they have money for Tanaka? Do I have to connect dots for you too? Coloring between the lines is not that hard but thinking outside the box is proving too hard for some of you

        1. bbmoney

          I hear you. It’s as obvious to me as the little kickback routine the Cuban gov’t has going on.

        2. Boogens

          I’m not going to get into a big pissing match with you over this but you’re still off. I don’t recall the Cubs ever complaining that the rooftops are hurting their historical revenue – they’ve complained that the rooftops are stealing their product. The Cubs attendance has been well over 3 miliion for many years until the decline over the rebuilding period, none of it is the result of the rooftops.

          If your stretch is to imply that the Cubs position is that the rooftops are hurting their future revenue because it’s holding up the new jumbotron then you fail to recognize this as an attempt by the club to regain political leverage and avoid a lawsuit. Do you honestly think that the rooftops wouldn’t sue if there wasn’t an existing contract and the Cubs erected a new jumbotron?

          The Cubs are bankrolling the entire $500 million rebuild. They’re not being hypocritical about their revenue or ability to pay for assets that align with the business and basball plans.

          The problem with your coloring example and the thinking-outside-the-box insult is that you have absolutely zero credibility. Your first inclination is to always look for the extreme viewpoint instead of the reasonable, most likely explanation.

          1. Kyle

            The Cubs very specifically said at the convention this year that the rooftops are a “$20m a year drain” on revenue.

            1. gocatsgo2003

              Presumably due to advertising in the outfield that cannot be sold due to the contract. More of an opportunity cost than a direct cost.

        3. FullCountTommy

          These ideas are in no way mutually exclusive. The Cubs can be able to sign Tanaka and still be down about 20 million in revenue per year because of the rooftop deal

  16. Austin

    Does anyone get the Vine Line magazine? I’m looking to get it but wasn’t sure how good it was. Hoping someone can give me some feedback on it before I pay the $25 or however much it is.

    1. Voice of Reason

      If you’re looking for objective reporting then stay far away from vine line.

      If you want to read that everything is perfect with the cubs and they are the best baseball team ever then subscribe to vine line.

      Its owned by the cubs so it will be nothing but positive stuff on the loveable losers

    2. BWA

      I’d say stick to reading bleacher nation and spend the money on a sweet shirt to support Brett. This site is far and away the best source of cubs news.

    3. Patrick W.

      I get and I think it’s worth it. Of course it’s put out by the team and you’d have to be a complete moron to want objective reporting out of it but it’s nice to read the staff interviews, the history pieces and the profiles of players. As a fan I consider it fun. If you love hating the Cubs you won’t like it.

      1. Patrick W.

        Here’s an example of something I read in Vine Line and nowhere else. From Bruce Levine and Joel Bierig’s column:

        Bordello and Strode worked tirelessly with catcher Wellington Castillo, whose improved signal calling and defense were keys to the pitching staff’s progress.

        “They convinced me my offense would come later, after I improved my pitch calling and built up trust with the pitchers,” Castillo said. “And they were right.”

  17. CubbieBubba

    It’s pretty funny if true, that Tanaka expects to be The Man – having never pitched at the big league level.

  18. Praying For The Cubs To Win

    If the Cubs during their bidding process have to allow Tanaka an out clause, I think they should offer him even more money than they have for the first three years, maybe $25-$30 million per year for 6 years, allow Tanaka the opt out clause not because I want it but because it will be part of the deal and then put in minimums that Tanaka must hit to secure the the last three years or the Cubs get to opt out, just an interesting thought for a contract offer. Therefore if he performs at least the minimum we all don’t hate the last years of the contract and we get some respect for the money.

  19. Diehardthefirst

    Storen of Nats is available and makes more sense than Tanaka

    1. DarthHater

      Right. The Cubs definitely should be focused on trading away assets for a closer instead of signing a free agent starter. Great thinking there.

      1. hcs

        No, the point of trading away prospects for Drew Storen would be to convert him to a Third Baseman, to ease Starlin Castro’s move to catcher, after converting Samardzija to shortstop. I’ve followed enough Die Hard posts over the years to catch the obvious logical leap here.

        1. DarthHater

          Ahhh, how stupid of me! ;-)

          1. hansman

            The only remaining question from this scenario is how do the Cubs pay Tanaka’s payoff to Cuba so that Bud has plausible deniability and the rooftops don’t sue?

  20. Blackhawks1963

    For all intents and purposes it all comes down the Dodgers or Yankees. Does he take less money to play in Los Angeles, or does he go to the Big Apple? We should know soon. Some think he makes a decision by Wednesday. We shall see.

    1. DarthHater

      Have you considered the possibility that Tanaka will sign with NY or LA?

      1. Cubsleeram

        I doubt it.

        Hey 1963, have you thought about that place on the west coast next to all that water, or that other place on the east coast with that bad ass liberty-statue thing? I bet those two might be dark horses.

      2. jp3

        Maybe if it’s all about his wife wanting to get to LA or NY he should take pennies on the dollar to play there? That just seems terrible for his agent that info leaked. I hope we make him an offer he can’t refuse.

    2. baldtaxguy

      I understand that the Yankees is the #1 favorite to land Tanaka, what do you think?

      1. Justin

        I hear Tanaka is all about playing with old/crusty, past their prime teammates. He also wants to go to a place that has a horrible farm system, expectations thru the roof, the worst roster in their own division, drama out the a$$, inflated/horrible contracts all around, and a strategy that the new CBA doesn’t allow to work. Sounds like the Yanks may be a perfect fit!

    3. FullCountTommy

      Blackhawks where do you think Tanaka will sign??

  21. TanakaWillBeACub

    tom loxas said the cubs offer would be 180 million over seven years that is with the posting fee I agree it will be that high the Yankees probably offered 140 and the dodgers 130 he will sign with the cubs y have the cubs not said how much their offer is because they respect tanakas wishes of wanting to keep it private plus this is smart they are waiting until Friday to announce what they make so that way at the last second they will best the Yankees and dodgers offers and swoop him up at the last minute

    1. TWC
      1. jp3

        I laughed really hard TWC.

  22. Diehardthefirst

    Jumbotron won’t be up before Tanaka shows that he is not a MLB pitcher

  23. Diehardthefirst

    All of these anonymous sources for these twitter messages are as reliable as anyone of us or maybe even less so as many of them have motive to provide disinformation while BN commentator input at worst is honest speculation

    1. baldtaxguy

      At worst, its tongue-in-cheek “speculation” to solicit comments

  24. Evolution

    If he’s measuring tradition…the Yankees and Dodgers have an edge.

    If he’s measuring proximity to Japan…the west coast has an edge.

    If he’s measuring Japanese/Asian culture, the west coast/LA also prevails.

    If his wife’s career factors in, it’s likely an edge to LA.

    Money becomes the equalizer…

    The other thing is the presentation…this stuff matters, too. Does anyone do a particularly strong job of selling…making Tanaka feel wanted? Think about moments you’ve gone looking for a job, or to buy something new…and ended up making a decision that surprised you.

    I have to believe that money and a strong pitch might make a game of this thing…

    1. Xruben31

      Theo Epstein has been pretty good at wooing players like he did with Curt Schilling.

  25. Mike F

    OMG, I can’t stop squinting. Diehard is replicating….. WTF is the world coming too?

  26. jeff1969

    Would most Cubs fans be satisfied if the Cubs signed Tanaka, but outbid everybody by say, 50 million? Like the Cubs contract was for 200 million and the next best was 150 or so? Also, could Tanaka really turn down a contract worth 40 or 50 million more? So, if the Cubs signed him, then he got hurt, would pretty much all the angry haters then want Theo’s blood because signing Tanaka was so obviously stupid? Maybe the best thing for Cubs fans is if Tanaka retires already. I mean, imagine if the White Sox somehow managed to sign him. The Cub nuts would be walking around Clark & Addison with pitchforks & torches.

    1. Kyle

      Yes, I’d want him at that price.

      It’s Epstein’s job to build a team that can survive a pitching injury. If he fails to do that, then he deserves the criticism.

    2. woody

      Teams often buy insurance policies for stuff like that Lloyds will insure almost anything.

  27. NorthSideIrish

    Tangotiger ‏@tangotiger 5m
    Blog post: Has the aging curve changed in the last several years?: ​Well, this is rather fascinating. There a…

    And this is why you don’t want to spend big money and give up draft picks for guys like E. Santana or Jiminez. Drop-off is coming quicker. I’m sure it’s unrelated to the Greenies ban though.

    1. Kyle

      This is absolutely a crucially important phenomenon.

      But you can’t spend big money on young players most of the time, and 2nd-round picks still suck.

  28. woody

    Tom Loxas tweet says he heard Cubs ofered Tank 160 million plus the posting fee, supposedly for 8 years. Nikkan sports says he recieved offers from 5 teams. D backs, LA, NYY, W sox and Cubs.

    1. FullCountTommy

      He said 7 years, but the rest of that is right on. Apparenty, all of the offers are over $100 million and the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers offers are all within 8 million of each other with the Cubs offer being 20-30 million higher than all of the others

  29. noisesquared

    If the Cubs do manage to land Tanaka and were then able to move some prospects for a legit bat in the OF, what does the outlook for 2014 become? Add Tanaka and a bat, anticipated improvement from Castro/Rizzo/Shark/Jackson, contributions from the prospects (Olt/Baez/Alcantara), and with an improved bullpen, .500 becomes very realistic and 85 wins aren’t out of the question.

    (Posted this above as a reply, but meant to post as it’s own item. Sorry for the repost!)

    1. Kyle

      It depends on how legit the bat, but I’d say 80-83 wins in 2014 in that scenario.

      85+ in 2015 starts to look more plausible.

    2. FullCountTommy

      The problem with this scenario is I don’t see the Cubs moving any of their top prospects for a legit bat. Vogelbach level prospects, but I see them waiting out the big guys at least another year.

      1. woody

        Most of our top prospects are legit bats. So why would we trade two or more for a legit bat for 2014? I can see possibly Christian Villanueva or Vogelbach. When you have four guys that are tpo 50 prospects in all of baseball you don’t throw then away to buy a few wins on a team that isn’t going to contend.

  30. cubman87

    Don’t worry guys, I fixed it. I posted this on Tanaka’s twitter feed. シカゴ·カブスに来て!

    1. ClevelandCubsFan

      It looked good in Google… might be dangerous. ..

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