According to MLBTR, the Chicago Cubs are among three purported finalists that could vie for the services of Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, should he be posted.
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter) passed along the report, which indicated that the Cubs, Diamondbacks and Yankees are expected to be the finalists to land the 25-year-old, a promising sign for Chicago fans that have been largely underwhelmed by the team’s lack of major moves this winter.
Ben Badler of Baseball America is also reporting that a decision is likely to come soon – either Tuesday or Wednesday – giving MLB executives a potential Christmas gift. Here’s Badler’s explanation:
Tanaka is currently away in Tokyo making appearances at events today and tomorrow, according to Japanese media reports, including Nikkan Sports. While Tanaka said he has yet to hear back from Eagles management since he informed the team of his desire to pitch in Major League Baseball next season, it’s expected that the Eagles will inform Tanaka of their decision at their next meeting.
Since Tanaka could have more events beginning Dec. 26, the belief in Japan is that an announcement on Tanaka could come on Dec. 24 or Dec. 25. The deadline for the Eagles to decide whether to make Tanaka available through the posting system is Feb. 1, though it isn’t expected they would drag things out anywhere close to that date.
It is widely believed that the fact that the Tanaka posting situation has remained in a holding pattern is a major factor in a timid market for starting pitchers, including former Cubs hurler Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. The Jeff Samardzija trade market has also likely been affected by teams hoping to land Tanaka, who is considered to be the best arm available.
Recent changes to the posting system between NPB and MLB limit teams’ bids to negotiate to $20 million. Should the Cubs land Tanaka, it would provide the team a much-needed ace to take the helm of the rotation as they become more competitive in the next couple of years.