Dec 12, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer talks with reporters after the Rule 5 Draft during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

REPORT: Cubs willing to go nine figures on Tanaka

Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago hit it right on the head in his latest work concerning the Chicago Cubs and Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

Greg Maddux made about $153 million in his Hall of Fame career, according to the salary database at Baseball-Reference.com. That’s also a rough estimate for what it will cost to sign Masahiro Tanaka to his first major-league contract.”

In other words, the Tanaka sweepstakes are quickly gaining steam – and in many regards – getting out of control.

Originally, many throughout the industry, including myself, believed that a $90 million deal stood a fair chance at landing Tanaka, who went a perfect 24-0 last year in Japan. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

And unfortunately, the Cubs are caught up in the madness.

According to Mooney, the “Cubs are prepared to make a nine-figure investment in Tanaka,” according to a source close to the situation. While Mooney says that Tanaka fits into the organization’s long-term plans, many questions remain regarding the right-hander.

The biggest question in my mind is – “Do the Cubs really want to invest an estimated $20 million-plus annually in a pitcher with no major-league experience?”

It’s enough to make me less confident in pulling the trigger on Tanaka. If I had $25 million to invest in a starting pitcher, I’d gladly take my chances waiting on Dodgers’ lefty Clayton Kershaw than investing in Tanaka.

Here’s why.

Yes, I understand that Tanaka dominated overseas. But in his second-to-last start of the year, he threw 160 pitches. And then, to make things worse, he came back the next day and threw another 15 pitches in relief. My question? Why?

If Tanaka is such a fantastic pitcher, why did it take him 160 pitches to get through nine innings? If he is able to locate his pitches as well as reports indicate, then why do you need that many pitches to get 27 outs?

I don’t have the answer. I’d like for someone to explain that to me, but for now, we’ll move forward.

While it’s admirable that he was willing to bounce back the next day when his team needed him, executives around the game have to be at least a little nervous about the workload his young arm has already endured.

Thousands of pitches on his arm, $20-plus million annual average value on the contract? Should the Cubs really go toe-to-toe with New York and Los Angeles?

Let us know what you think by visiting us on Twitter at @CubbiesCrib.

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Tags: Chicago Cubs Hot Stove Masahiro Tanaka

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