Chicago Cubs Need To Pursue Masahiro Tanaka Aggressively

By Juan Pablo Aravena
Masahiro Tanaka
The Japan Times’ Official Facebook Page

Even though the Chicago Cubs have only made some minor moves this offseason, the team might end up being an aggressive player in free agency after all.

The front office led by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer has repeated constantly that the Cubs will only spend when a player that fits their bill becomes available. It should a player in his prime – preferably young – and that can fill a void on the roster.

Based on those criteria, the Cubs should be very aggressive in the pursuit of Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka as his team – Rakuten Eagles – has apparently decided to allow him to come to the States if he’s willing to.

There aren’t many times when a player of his quality is posted into the open market, and with the new posting system – it limits the bid to a maximum of $20 million and all teams that match that sum are eligible to sign the player – there should be a number of teams interested in landing Tanaka who’s coming off a spectacular year in the NBP, a league most experts tend to compare to AAA.

The 25-year-old ace put up video-game like numbers, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA, 183 strikeouts and only 32 walks in 212 innings. He appears to be a top of the rotation arm, and most scouts think he is at least a No. 2 but given his age he could eventually develop into a legit ace. Tanaka features a three-pitch arsenal that includes a four-seam fastball, a slider and a splitter — the three of them being considered plus offerings.

There’s not much to dislike about him, and if he’s made available the Cubs should be aggressive to land him. A rotation with Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta behind Tanaka could form a staff much improved from last season so if there’s a chance, the Cubs need to spend.

There’s no other player on the market that seems like a better fit for the organization.

Juan Pablo Aravena is a sports writer for Follow him on Twitter @jparavenarant or add him to your network on Google

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