Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed the team is interested in acquiring Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka after the right-hander went 24-0 in the regular season for Tohoku Rakuten of the Nippon Professional Baseball this year.
“We’re going to be part of the process,” Hoyer said Monday from the GM meetings in Orlando. “We’ve done our work on him and plan on being part of it.”
A new posting system with Major League Baseball and the NPB is currently being negotiated and must approved before Japanese players can sign with a major league team.
According to ESPN Chicago, the new system will aim to revamp the skyrocketing costs of players coming over from Japan.
One reported scenario has the major league team that wins the bid paying an average between the top two bids, while another suggestion is to abolish the bidding system entirely and wait until the Japanese players become free agents after nine years. It’s unclear when the situation will be resolved.
The Cubs will have to outbid the deep-pocketed New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers who also are reportedly interested in Tanaka.
The 6-foot-2, 205 pound Tanaka throws a low-90s fastball and two secondary pitches, including a 70 splitter and a low-to-mid-80s slider and he can also throw a curveball.
The 25-year-old Tanaka 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.
Tanaka has been compared to Darvish and would fit the Cubs’ need as a top-of-the-rotation young starter.