The Chicago Cubs are anxiously waiting for Masahiro Tanaka to announce his decision, and the time should come sometime this week.
The Japanese right-hander has reportedly received offers from six teams – the Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers – along with the Cubs, and the deadline to announce his new team is on Friday. While most fans are expecting to see where the coveted pitcher will land, the Cubs’ front office needs to be aware as his arrival could mean a huge building block towards the future.
But they also need to be prepared for the fact that he might not sign with the Cubs. And if that is the case there’s no need to hit the panic button.
Tanaka is certainly the best free agent pitcher on the market, and his arrival would make the rotation even stronger. But in the case that he chooses another team, the Cubs need to know there are still options out there. Both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer need to stay on the rebuilding path.
Guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Erwin Santana and former Cub Matt Garza aren’t on the radar this time, and since the signing of another pitcher would be to fill the final spot in the rotation, it makes more sense to target someone like Scott Baker, Jason Hammel or Chris Capuano; all of them are already proven at the MLB level and can add some much-needed veteran leadership in the clubhouse.
Of course they aren’t as sexy as Tanaka and losing out on him would be a major disappointment, but there’s no need to panic. The Cubs are on the right track to sustained success, and they should maintain that path regardless of what happens with the former Rakuten Golden Eagles ace.