Two years ago, the Chicago Cubs lost a bidding war with the Texas Rangers over Yu Darvish and are reportedly interested in a young-arm similar to him, Japanese right-hander Mashairo Tanka.
The 24-year-old, Tanka is the same age as Darvish was when he signed with the Rangers and produced comparable numbers to Darvish in the Japan’s Nippon Pro Baseball (NPB).
In Tanka’s most recent outing, led the Rakuten Eagles to a 2-1 victory over the Yomiuri Giants in Game 2 of the Japan World Series on Sunday at Kleenex Stadium. Tanka, who went 24-0 in the regular season has not lost a game since Aug. 19, 2012, gave up three hits while walking three and striking out 12 in a 127 pitch outing.
He also represented Japan in the 2013 World Baseball Classic with one start and three relief appearances. He allowed 10 hits and two earned runs with 12 strikeouts and no walks over seven innings.
Here is a scouting report on Tanaka, per Baseball America.
At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Tanaka throws a low-90s fastball that can touch 96 mph. Even though Tanaka can reach the mid-90s, his fastball is the pitch that gives some scouts pause because it comes in on a flat plane, making it more hittable than the velocity might suggest. Tanaka has two secondary pitches that have earned grades of 60 or better on the 20-80 scouting scale, including a 70 splitter with late downward action to keep hitters off his fastball. His low- to mid-80s slider is another plus weapon, while he’ll mix in a curveball as well.
The risk with Tankana, aside from money, is whether or not his game will translate to the MLB. Hideki Ibrabu and Kei Igawa were bust in the majors while Darvish, Hideo Nomo, and Hiroki Kuroda have done well.
Darvish is signed to six-year deal worth approximately $60 million which is the general ballpark the Cubs would expect to pay if they win the bidding war. Signing Tankana would show Cubs’ President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer are continuing to build their organization from the ground up and also improving the team at the major league level.