By most indications, we will know the destination of Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka within the next 48 hours. That could either bring immense joy to Cubs fans or simply add to a quickly-growing list of disappointments that have come in the past few years.
Our very own Garrett Filson reports agents in the industry say that the big question mark for the Cubs is Tanaka’s family. We reported last week that his wife prefers the West Coast to any other destination, and frankly, geographic location is something the team has no control over.
According to Cubs beat writer Bruce Levine, “the Cubs will outbid the field on money and years.” He also added that no teams know the bids of others in the running for the pitcher’s services.
Offers for Tanaka are expected to be for at least six years and $120 million, but Jon Morosi of FOX Sports opined earlier today that although the Cubs arguably need the right-hander more than the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees, the current status of the team – which remains in the midst of a massive rebuilding effort – would mean the front office would have to overpay to land him. And even then, it remains uncertain the money would be enough.
Tanaka wants to pitch in a major market. The Cubs obviously fulfill that need. But Tanaka has a strong desire to win right away, and do so in an environment conducive to his personal success. If the money is equal, the Cubs would have a difficult time beating the Dodgers or Yankees at the bargaining table on those points.
Chicago is in desperate need – by fans’ accounts – of a major move this offseason. Tanaka makes sense for president of baseball operations Theo Epstein on several fronts. First, and foremost, signing Tanaka does not lead to the team losing any of its controlled talent or a draft pick next year. Secondly, Tanaka is only 25. This means that even if the Cubs add additional years (in the seven-to-eight year range) he would still be in his early 30’s when the deal concludes – a major focal point of Epstein and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer.
With Friday’s deadline rapidly approaching, the baseball world is holding its collective breath. Will Masahiro Tanaka be lured to Chicago by the idea of headlining a rotation and bringing the franchise its first World Series championship in over a century or will he stick to comfort and call New York or Los Angeles – both proven winners – home for the next several years?