With the confirmed news that Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka will finally be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, the Chicago Cubs can officially start planning to acquire the star right-hander.
Tanaka is clearly the best pitcher in the free agent market this offseason – even though he hasn’t thrown a single pitch at the MLB level – and since the posting fee is only $20 million, most teams are expected to enter the bidding war. However, since the team that will land him will be the one able to convince him to join the organization, the Cubs will need to do their best to acquire him.
Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners – three teams that haven’t been shy to spend big bucks this offseason – are all expected to make a strong push for Tanaka and some other organizations like the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels are also expected to make an effort. Since all these teams are set to win-now and the Cubs are only in a rebuilding mode that hasn’t even gone as expected, the Front Office led by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer is in a clear disadvantage in respect to the possible rivals.
Therefore, the Cubs need to focus their plan in out-bidding the other teams. While that’s something that appears to be complicated considering the spending power of the Yankees and the Dodgers, the organization needs to show Tanaka the money and convince him he will be the one anchoring a pitching staff that will have several impact players on the lineup arriving to the majors in the next few years.
It appears to be a complicated effort, but the Cubs need to do whatever they can to land Tanaka. Pitchers like him don’t grow on trees and they are almost never made available at this stage in their career.