This weekend was the Chicago Cubs’ opportunity to shine as the team for Masahiro Tanaka in the rumor world. Before them, it was the Mariners. And then the Yankees. And then the Dodgers.
The Cubs got their 15 minutes, and now it’s back to reality …
- Writing for the New York Times, David Waldstein hears from an official with an NL team involved in the bidding (Cubs? Dodgers? Diamondbacks?) that his team is expecting that the Yankees will ultimately be the Yankees, and outbid everyone else. Disinformation? Truth? I’ve said all along that, absent a hard-and-fast desire to stay under the $189 million luxury tax cap, it is hard to believe the Yankees would allow Tanaka to sign with another team because that team is offering him more money. The Yankees need him badly. They have plenty of money. They clearly have the desire to get him. Again: unless $189 million is a hard rule, there’s little reason to believe money is going to be the reason Tanaka doesn’t sign with the Yankees (barring the kind of obscene, reckless offer even the Yankees wouldn’t make). It will have to take something else to get him – the kind of personal idiosyncrasies we can’t possibly know for certain (geography, challenge, being “the man”, etc.). Well, something else, and also making sure the financial offer is right there with the Yankees.
- As for all of that big-time spending stuff as it applies to the Dodgers, here’s where I land: I, of course, think they can do it, too. I’m just not convinced they’re going to be quite as willing to go nuts (like the Yankees and Cubs, for example), given the Clayton Kershaw extension, and given the presence of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu in the rotation already. I’m not saying they won’t do it – you never count out SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS – but I just don’t see it as quite as likely.
- Jon Morosi writes about the Cubs as Tanaka contenders, acknowledging that the Cubs really want him, but struggling to come up with good reasons he’ll actually choose them.
- Some bonus Tanaka GIF’ing and scouting from Baseball America.
- It’s impossible to sort fact from fiction in anything related to Tanaka, but I think it’s interesting to consider how it all could be playing out behind the scenes if the things that we believe to be true are actually true. Imagine that the Cubs are the high bidder, primarily because they know they have to be the high bidder to have any chance of overcoming the geographical and competitive lures of Los Angeles and New York. Until you’re told that Tanaka is actually going to accept the Cubs’ deal, there is no incentive for you – the Yankees or the Dodgers – to match the Cubs’ offer. They can rely on the geography/competitive stuff to keep their offer down until the last minute when they know precisely how high they have to come to get a deal done. So, in that way, it makes sense that the Cubs would be the “leader” in the bidding, maybe right up until a deal has to be completed in a couple days. Then, the preferred team(s) swoop(s) in, ups their offer just enough, and closes on Tanaka (after his agent returns to the Cubs, explaining that they can get the money they need from a preferred team, and the only way the Cubs can get him now is if they make an obscene, reckless offer). It’s not hard to imagine things playing out this way, as unhappy as it may make you.