The Chicago Cubs are among the suitors for star Japanese pitcher Mashairo Tanaka but they are also targeting other pitchers including Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda and Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon, reports Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago.
Teams continue to wait on the final new posting agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. Once an agreement is met the Rakuten Golden Eagles will decide whether or not they will post Tanaka. Rakuten’s decision to make Tanaka available is likely to be the domino to start the free agent starting pitching market.
Those have been missing pieces of the puzzle at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Tanaka – the 25-year-old Japanese ace who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season – has been at the center of the lobby buzz inside the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
Inside the organization, there’s skepticism the Cubs will be able to land Tanaka. The capped posting fee would essentially be a $20 million tax on what should be a huge free-agent contract.
“In theory, it’s going to play out over a lot of time,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “You can’t wait around. You have to make your moves. But, yeah, I think continuing to add to our depth is really important. We could add more than one (starter).”
Maeda, 25, went 15-7 with a 2.10 ERA and struck out 158 while walking 40 in 175 2/3 innings for the Hiroshima Carp last season. He is subjected to the posting system.
Yoon, 27, started his career in the Korean Baseball Organization at 19 and has a career 3.19 ERA. In 2013, Yoon posted a 4.00 ERA, with 28 walks and 76 strikeouts in 87 2/3 innings. He spent the season in the bullpen for the majority of the season after long being a starter.
The 31-year-old Hammel has a career record of 49-59 with a 4.80 earned run average in 215 games – 158 starts. He has pitched with Tampa Bay, Colorado and most recently, Baltimore over the course of the past eight years. In 2012, Hammel showed signs of being ready to finally make the turn, posting a career-best 3.43 ERA in 20 starts, but injuries derailed those hopes last season.
Baker, 32, spent the entire 2013 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery after signing a one-year deal worth $5.5 million last November. Cubs management has indicated they want a right-hander like Baker in their rotation.