Conflicting reports keep pouring in on the Cubs and Shota Imanaga

A report out of Japan suggests Chicago has tapped out in their pursuit of the Japanese lefty, while others indicate the Cubs are still firmly in the hunt.

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BASEBALL-JPN-TPE / KAZUHIRO NOGI/GettyImages
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There's been a flurry of conflicting reports flying around when it comes to Shota Imanaga, who faces a Jan. 11 signing deadline as he makes the jump to MLB after a decorated playing career in Japan.

A report out of Japan said both the Cubs and Phillies 'withdrew for budget reasons,' with the race seemingly narrowing to the Angels and Giants. Now, again, the dust hasn't settled here, but that same report seems to have both the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox backing off in their efforts to land Imanaga, as well.

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning Bob Nightengale indicated the Cubs are a finalist for Imanaga's services, saying the southpaw "has four teams seriously bidding for his services with a Thursday deadline, including the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs." Again, both of those teams had been crossed off the list in that earlier report, so it's hard to get a read on where things actually stand.

Whether it's Shota Imanaga, a trade or another free agent signing, the Cubs need to add at least one quality starting pitcher

I touched earlier in the weekend on some more mid-level arms Jed Hoyer could be focusing on as he looks to add to the pitching staff - all of whom will command significantly less than the now-rumored $100+ million Imanaga is looking for on the heels of record-breaking deals for countryman Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Unfortunately, we all woke up to the news of the Mets signing Sean Manaea to a two-year, $28 million deal on Sunday - which takes a major mid-tier option off the board.

"It was a competition in which more than 10 teams expressed interest. His evaluation, which was initially expected to be around five years and $75 million (approximately 10.8 billion yen), has soared due to the high demand for starting pitchers. It is now said to be worth more than $100 million (approximately 14.5 billion yen), and it appears that the Phillies and Cubs, who had been highly valued, withdrew for budget reasons."

Sankei Sports, Japan

I'd be shocked if Imanaga went to the Angels after the organization failed to build a winner around Ohtani - but the Giants are a team that makes a ton of sense as they look to keep pace in the NL West. The Red Sox badly need a pitcher like Imanaga, but unless they can shed some dollars this week, it seems unlikely they'll be able to add him to the fold.

One way or another, we'll have an answer on Imanaga in the coming days. Once he comes off the board, we could see quick movement on NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell and veteran left-hander Jordan Montgomery - although with Scott Boras representing both, who knows how he'll play things as far as timing does.

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