The Chicago Cubs are preparing a monster offer to land Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, and now they only have to wait for his decision to see if they are able to sign the former Rakuten Golden Eagles ace.
The Cubs will likely have to outbid both the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers to land the coveted right-hander, and while most fans would be thrilled with his arrival, the landscape of the Cubs’ won’t be drastically changed if Tanaka ends up being a Cubbie.
Jeff Samardzija recently talked to the media and said that “if Tanaka joins the team, the ‘R’ word – rebuilding – practically disappears and that would completely change things within the franchise”. While it might be nice to see him thinking that, the reality is that the rebuilding process won’t be sped up just because the Cubs landed an impact player.
No expensive veterans will be by the team as they would block the prospects, and if the Cubs are able to compete this year, it doesn’t seem likely that the Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will suddenly decide to start flipping assets to bring more players just to make a deep playoff run. The front office has already set their sights in laying a foundation for sustained success, and they wouldn’t be smart to change the focus based on the presence of only one player.
There’s no doubt that Tanaka will surely improve the quality of the starting rotation for this year and beyond, but it’s not smart to think that the overall plan will change just because of his arrival. The Cubs have a clear path to follow if they want to turn things around for good, and they should stay down that road for the foreseeable future.