REPORT: Cubs willing to go nine figures on Tanaka

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

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

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.

Topics: Chicago Cubs, Hot Stove, Masahiro Tanaka

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  • mhughes0379

    Honestly, I think that this is the most level-headed article regarding the Cubs and Tanaka that I’ve read to date. I just don’t see how anyone can truly justify handing out 9 figures to someone who has never thrown a major league pitch in his life, as well as someone who has 1,200 or 1,300 innings on his shoulder and elbow. Darvish was the only REAL exception for a Japanese pitcher, and he hasn’t made it through the contract yet. He’s also got a better frame and had slightly less mileage on his arm. AND what if Tanaka turns out to be Matsuzaka II? I think everyone gets caught up in the hype, and Cubs fans just want them to do SOMETHING this offseason that points to competing and a willingness to spend money. There’s just a lot of risk involved with Tanaka.

    • Sonny Wright

      My way of thinking is $153,000,000 is enough to buy some PROVEN pitchers,at least 2. What these owners need to do is bite their tounges and start offering reasonable contracts to these players. And then let them play for who they want. If you grow a good rookie crop,good free agents will want to play for you. Dont get me wrong if an owner is stupid enough to give you $153,000,000 then by all means take it.And I agree this is an excellent column. I bleed Cubbie blue.

      • mhughes0379

        Exactly. Well said, Sonny. You know, maybe Tanaka turns out to be an ace, but, in my mind, there’s just way too much risk involved here. Like you said, that kind of cash and commitment is enough to buy proven arms, and players will want to come to town once things turn around. Who wouldn’t want to pitch in an environment like Wrigley during the good times? There isn’t an environment like it, and the chance to win it all in front of die-hard Cubs fans would be the opportunity of a lifetime. Our time is coming, and players will take less to play in Cubbie blue.

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