25-year-old Japanese RHP Masahiro Tanaka has officially been posted. Teams who appear to be the early leaders for his services are unsurprisingly the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. Possibly surprising to some, on the other hand, are the Chicago Cubs.
Although these teams may seem to have the upper hand early on, there will surely be tons of other teams involved. Tanaka would be a great addition to any major league rotation, and his age makes him an even more intriguing target.
The Yankees, Dodgers and possibly other teams like the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers seemingly have the upper hand on the Cubs simply because of their recent success. The fact that the Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 is no secret. That being said, president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have assembled a top-notch scouting team and an incredible minor league system.
The results have not made it to the major league level yet, but the team seems to be heading in the right direction. Adding Tanaka at the top of their rotation would surely speed things up a bit as well.
On Tuesday, when the news was announced that Tanaka would be posted, David Kaplan of CSNChicago tweeted that an industry source told him, “Cubs will not be outbid on Tanaka.” Many seem to believe that Epstein and Hoyer have been waiting to pounce on Tanaka all offseason, and will do whatever it takes to land him.
Acquiring a 25-year-old pitcher with great stuff would be huge for the Cubs right now. Not having to give up anything personnel-wise is even better. I strongly believe Kaplan’s source, and think that the Cubs will be the team offering Tanaka the most money.
That same source told Kaplan that, “convincing Tanaka to come to Chicago will be hard.” I get it, the Cubs have been terrible for the past few seasons. He wants to come to MLB and play for a winning organization. That is where teams like the Yankees and Dodgers, who will also pay huge for Tanaka, have the upper hand.
Epstein, Hoyer and the rest of the organization needs to be able to sell Tanaka on players like Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija and Anthony Rizzo, and especially their loaded minor league system with prospects like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and C.J. Edwards.
Make no mistake, this will be an uphill battle for the Cubs. But, they seem to be 100 percent focused on landing Tanaka, and will do everything in their power to do so. Will that be enough? Only time will tell.