Since my morning Masahiro Tanaka update had a decidedly pessimistic tone, it wouldn’t be a ridiculous rumorfest without an immediately contrary rumor emerging.
As it has over the past few days, the optimism is coming from Bruce Levine, whose sources clearly believe the Chicago Cubs have a much better chance at landing Tanaka than, well, almost any other sources out there. That’s not to say Levine is wrong, of course; it is merely to note that, presently, as you steel your heart against disappointment, Levine’s position is the exception, not the rule.
Industry sources believe the Cubs will outbid the field on money and years. None of the clubs know other teams bids.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 20, 2014
There is a ton packed into that short, little tweet. The first thing you see, naturally, is what we’ve heard before from Levine (and Dave Kaplan, back in December): the Cubs won’t be outbid, financially, for Tanaka. You can choose to believe it or not (we’ve heard the same thing said about the Yankees and Dodgers at various times). It’s one data point.
There is also an implication there, though Levine is not explicitly stating it, that Tanaka’s agent has installed some kind of artificial blind bidding process. Obviously the previous posting system was a blind bidding system, but Tanaka is more like a free agent – he gets to choose where he signs. There was talk at one time that Yoenis Cespedes’ agent also tried to do a blind bidding thing (the idea is that you get the best price, because the high bidder ends up bidding against itself), but we also heard that each of the Cubs and A’s were at the same dollar figure – but different years (seems awfully coincidental if that was totally blind). In other words … I don’t think this will be a blind bidding situation, as great as that could potentially be for the Cubs. If Tanaka prefers New York, for example, his agent wouldn’t be doing him much of a service to look at the Cubs’ huge bid and say, “well, sorry, Masahiro, I’d love to take this bid to the Yankees and ask them to match it for you, but it was a blind bidding thing.”
Although I enjoy hearing these positive reports – they aren’t coming from nowhere – I remain of the mind that the Yankees still make the most sense for Tanaka, all things considered. The Cubs, as much as you hate hearing it, strike me as a close second. As I cautioned folks on Twitter:
Remember re Tanaka: it is possible to want a guy badly, to make him a killer offer, to do everything possible to get him … & not get him.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) January 20, 2014
If that’s how things play out, we’ll all simply do our best to be happy that the money was there to take a serious run at Tanaka. He simply preferred to go elsewhere.
But, um, maybe he’ll choose the Cubs and we can all smile for a minute.