The hope was high and the excitement was all over Wrigley Field as the Chicago Cubs’ fans thought they had a shot to land Masahiro Tanaka. Instead, the Japanese ace decided to take his talents elsewhere.
After agreeing to a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees, the 25-year old right-hander will take the ball every fifth day for Joe Girardi’s team. He is expected to anchor a rotation that will look to compete in the AL East. It’s a huge blow for the Cubbies, but the world doesn’t end here. The front office needs to act quickly to add depth to their starting rotation.
Tanaka would’ve been the ace of the team and a solid building block for years to come, but since he won’t be with the Cubs now, the organization needs to start thinking about things they can control. They definitely need to look at the free agent market to add some veteran arms. Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson are locks to be in the rotation and all signs are pointing to Jake Arrieta taking the fourth spot. The fifth spot remains a mystery, but there are several options the Cubs can target.
Guys like Chris Capuano, Bronson Arroyo and Paul Maholm are all available, and they are already proven at the MLB level unlike Tanaka who hasn’t thrown a single pitch in the States yet. They are cheaper and more experienced options that could add some veteran leadership to a clubhouse that will start to be filled with young players as soon as this year.
Granted, they aren’t as sexy as Tanaka, but the franchise shouldn’t hit the panic button. The team can still improve even if they weren’t able to land the best free agent on the market.