The 2014 off-season just began and the Chicago Cubs need to make a splash this Winter that surprises the nation. The Cubs need to pay whatever price it takes to land Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Teams expect him to be posted later this month and the bidding will then start.
Tanaka fits into what the Cubs are looking for. The Cubs need a top-line starter and he’s only 25-years old. Tanaka recently turned 25 on November 1st. That right there, checks off two key boxes on the Cubs check list. Tanaka has the potential to be an ace on a major league team and at the best, a very good number 2 pitcher in the starting rotation. Tanaka would be the number one pitcher for the Cubs.
In his career on the NPB, Tanaka had a 99-35 record with a 2.30 earn run average and 1,238 strikeouts. For the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka was on a 30-game win streak until the streak was snapped during his 4-2 lost in the playoffs. In that game, Tanaka threw 160 pitches and came back the next game to close out the game. In that game where he closed, Tanaka threw 16 pitches. In 2 games in 2 days, Tanaka threw 176 pitches. Now you see why half the major league teams are interested in Tanaka.
Scouts are wary of his high pitch total during the season over in Japan. But teams still won’t back off in their pursuit of Tanaka and the price won’t drop. Tanaka will command a lot of money and he will get it.
As we all know by now, Tanaka will have interest from half the major league and that does include high payroll teams. Most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports the Yankees have made Tanaka a top priority, along with second baseman Robinson Cano. Passan said Tanaka is considered 1a to the Yankees, with Cano as 1. The Dodgers have already said they would like to sign Tanaka and acquire Tampa Bay’ Rays starting pitcher David Price. The Dodgers will do whatever it takes to make that possible. The Dodgers don’t care how much money it takes to land Tanaka and will trade any prospect to acquire Price. The Dodgers and Yankees are easily the Cubs rivals when it comes to signing Tanaka. Nick Cafardo of Boston.com said the Yankees, Dodgers and Cubs are the early favorites to sign Tanaka.
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein spoke a few days ago and said he has to do a better job making wise investments. Epstein was aiming that statement toward starting pitcher Edwin Jackson. Since Jackson’s contract looks bad right now after his awful season. I just hope Epstein’s statement does not mean he’ll be more tight with money and not pursue Tanaka hard. General Manager Jed Hoyer said; “the Cubs will be in the process for Tanaka.” I just hope Hoyer’s statement means the Cubs will be all in for Tanaka.
Tanaka is not the second coming of Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish. But Tanaka will cost more money than Darvish did. Don’t get me wrong, Tanaka will be a great major league starting pitcher.
If I’m the Cubs, I would go all out and sign Tanaka to whatever price it may take. I would pay 100 million as the posting fee and then sign Tanaka to a 5-year contract worth 75-80 million. The 100 million posting fee will not count against the payroll and just the 15/16 million a year will. That does seem like a lot of money, but the Cubs have to make it happen.
The Cubs have came in second enough of times when it has come to top-line International free agents. The Cubs have to show they mean business and by signing Tanaka will do so.
Upcoming free agent classes for starting pitching is very weak and why Tanaka means a lot more to teams. By signing a young stud pitcher like Tanaka, the Cubs won’t have to trade for an ace and trade your farm that have been worked on so heavily.
The Cubs need to surprise the whole MLB and the nation by signing Masahiro Tanaka!