The Chicago Cubs are one of many teams who seem to be waiting out the Masahiro Tanaka situation. With the new posting rules in place, where the max posting bid that MLB teams can make is $20 million, Tanaka’s team in Japan, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, are unsure whether they want to post their star pitcher. It appears that we may hear a decision on Tanaka soon, but until then teams like the Cubs will just have to wait.
Tanaka is a 25-year-old RHP that will get a huge payday if he comes to the states. He is a great pitcher and there will be a ton of teams in on him if he becomes available. While I strongly believe that the Cubs need to do basically whatever it takes to land Tanaka, there is another Japanese pitcher who they need to have their eye on as well.
Kenta Maeda may not be on an elite level like Tanaka, but he is a good pitcher in his own right. Like most Japanese pitchers, Maeda does an incredible job with control and mixing up his pitches. He throws a fastball that lands anywhere from 88-93 MPH, a nice curveball, a solid slider and a change-up. He is a great athlete on the mound, which helps him field his position well and repeat his delivery.
The Cubs are definitely in the market for young starting pitching, and if he is posted the 25-year-old Maeda certainly fits that bill. His size (6-foot, 160-pounds) certainly raises some question marks, but I believe he is worth the risk. The Cubs will not have to give up any player value for him, and he will not cost anything close to what Tanaka will monetarily.
Maeda was dominant for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic last spring. He went 2-1 through the tournament with a 0.60 ERA and led the WBC with 18 strikeouts. Maeda proved himself against great competition in the WBC. Ever since then, he has expressed his desire to play in the big leagues, and his team reportedly has no problem posting him.
I think Maeda would be a slam dunk for the Cubs. Most scouts project him as a No. 4 starter. While that may not be as exciting as Tanaka, there will surely be a place for him on this team now and in the future. Whether they land, miss out or if Tanaka is never even posted, I think the Cubs need to be strongly involved with Maeda.