T-Minus 4 Days on Tanaka

It's a little less than 4 days before Decision Tanaka is due and nobody knows nothing except that everybody seems to need speculate on something. Bruce Levine reported that the Cubs will not be outbid. Gordon Wittenmyer said that's rubbish and Cubs remain a longshot. Jayson Stark kept hearing from important baseball people that the Cubs were going to make a splash and so on and so on.

As of this morning, the latest rumors are that the deal will be in the 6/120M range (not including posting fees) and that the Yankees and Cubs are the last 2 teams standing. Of course, it's also been said that Tanaka's agent Casey Close follows his namesake and doesn't negotiate through the media and we know the Cubs and Yankees like to keep things close to the vest. Unfortunately the Diamondbacks aren't in on this, otherwise we'd know exactly where everything stands thanks to Kevin Towers.

So what do we know? We know Tanaka will be playing his age 25 season, and that young age plus his pitching skills are why the Cubs and TheJedi would be willing to hand out their first 9-figure deal. Is the price going to be ridiculous? You betcha!!! And as Jayson Stark noted, only 8 other pitchers in the league are getting paid over $20M annually and only 2 don't own Cy Youngs (Kershaw, Sabathia, Hamels, Lee, Cain, Verlander, Greinke, and King Felix).

But of course, this isn't a case where you're paying for past performance, the Cubs would be paying for potential future performance and that's obviously not the norm by baseball practices, but on the other hand, probably smarter. Granted, the chances of Tanaka even being one of the top 5 pitchers in the National League are slim as most scouts put him more as a solid #2 pitcher. But #2 pitchers pitch like #1 pitchers all the time and Jeff Samardzija's numbers look like a #3 or #4 pitcher at the end of most every season, but there's #1 or #2 stuff in that arm that occasionally shows itself and the Cubs are hoping they get paid in prospects like he's a #1.  So don't get too riled up about his alleged slot in the rotation. Travis Wood had the 12th best ERA in the National League last year, but when you look at things like FIP and BABIP, you realize, he's probably more a mid to low-end rotation starter. But you get enough good pitchers and you never know which ones will pitch great in any given year, you just hope for solid results and enough depth to make it through the season and then hope for a little magic and luck to ride through the postseason. A starting staff of Samardzija, Tanaka, T. Wood, E. Jackson (who will bounce back) and Jake Arrieta sure doesn't sound bad. I'm not sure it's great, but it's a good start for a few years while the minor league reinforcements continue their basic training.

So as the January 24th deadline looms, Tanaka and his family have some decisions to make. My guess is the Cubs know that joining a rebuilding team is a tough sell and they went all in on their bid, hoping to lure him with money and the promise that the winning is just around the corner. Now what that all-in means, we may or may not find out, but if he chooses to go with another team, my guess is the reasons will go beyond the financial ones.

You may have seen the announcement last week that MLB has approved the use of expanded instant replay. I won't go into the details, but fair to say I'm happy that there will be more correct calls and less incorrect calls. That is a good thing. It will not be perfect, although I'm sure some will demand perfection. Some folks are worried that it will extend the length of what is already a pretty lengthy baseball game. That may or may not be the case, since it would in theory cut down on some of the lengthy shouting matches over calls. What I would have really liked to accompany the announcement is that any player or manager protesting a call that goes beyond a moment of exasperation would be immediately ejected from a game. And if a manager left the dugout to argue, he'd immediately get slapped with a 5-game suspension with no appeal. Add that to the mix and you have a system that should work nicely and swiftly.


Jason Parks at BP making the case for Javier Baez as #1 prospect in baseball.

rumor that Tanaka decision may come in 3-4 hours, not from a major media source but you never know in this day and age.

Would be around 7-9pm CST if true

Go Banana!

...probably coming from David Kaplan, as that matches the time for his radio show on WGN, or it's a Mark Carman ruse so that Kap can beat MC up some more

(unless Tanaka is flying to Chicago in a Lou Malnoti's private jet)

fwiw, Stark says it's probably not happening until Friday

PS - "Astros owner confirms interest in SP Tanaka"; MYSTERY TEAM!!!!!

Astros probably farther along the rebuild process than Cubs and should also have plenty of cash, wouldn't put it past them...plus no state tax leverage.

Nice summary of the situation, Rob.

Jesse Rogers chat recap


thinks Cubs would be willing to go up to $25M per year on Tanaka

If they throw in a statue at the gates, how can he turn it down? And maybe a Tanaka Tavern in the new WrigleyPlex?

and start selling sushi + Bud Light combo packs. Real classylike.

@Ken_Rosenthal BREAKING: Tanaka to #Yankees, seven years, $155M, opt-out after fourth year.


I am both sad and happy.

I can't be pissed aboutt not getting him at that price.

Now we can move on to the Paul Maholm watch. fffffffffffffff

Paul Maholm watch is my favorite part of every Cubs offseason...

I feel certain that the improvements made in Duct Tape in the past 4 years will revive Chad Fox's career.


A little disappointed, but only because I want to see the Cubs moving towards being competitive sooner rather than later, not because I think spending that amount on an import is a slam dunk.

Well...Not saying he should have picked the Cubs, but good luck with that in 2 years once Jeter, Teixeira, Sabathia, Ichiro, etc. etc.etc are gone/crippled/older than dirt.

Now we can move on to the Cubs big signing of Matt Garza. Wait....

I have a feeling the Yankees will figure it out.

They will... But with some of the older players under contract for 3 seasons or more, and getting older...it's not going to be that easy, even with their bottomless checkbook.
Teixeira 3 more years at $22.5 mill per...Sabathia 4 more years...$23-25 million per...Beltran 3years $15 mill per....McCann 5 years at $17 million per..Ellsbury 7 years, $21 per..
Thats a lot of money for players over 30.

The only reason I really wanted the Cubs to get him is that this has been a dead offseason for the Cubs, and they lost 96 games last year. Teams that lose 96 games shouldn't stand pat.

Justin Ruggiano fever. Catch it.

I did, and my eyes are hemorrhaging from seeing that he struck out every fourth at bat or so last year.

Looking forward to the #1 draft pick in 2015, who is our main competition this year? Where can I find those inverted standings starting in April?

pretty much the same as this past season with the exception of seattle, minnesota, and maybe the wsox and marlins.

either way, the cubs should be in line for some mediocracy. the SP is decent...then pen seems improved...the bats are anemic as hell unless castro/rizzo step up to expectations and have some company.

the pen was so awful last year...i like where it's at this season though it's full of "boring" names. i kinda wonder if they'll transition j.grimm to the pen or keep trying to make his stuff work as a starter.

25m a year for tanaka (counting posting fee) and he's seeing 22m of it...that's crazy.

yu darvish must feel slighted right now. he would probably be worth 30m, and easily doubling what he's currently making.


rooftop owners and Cubs reach impasse, Cubs will move forward on building right field sign, rooftop owners will likely sue to block it. They already filed a suit against some financial advisor back in the Tribune owned days over defamation.

“We have worked hard to reach a resolution with our rooftop partners which would have helped preserve their views, including reducing the number, size and location of signs. Unfortunately, they opted yesterday to reject the proposal and file this lawsuit,” [Cubs spokesman Julian] Green said.


“Since our approvals last year, we have been anxious to get the Wrigley Field renovation started. Yesterday’s action will certainly force additional delays to our project.”

The rooftop owners need better PR. The Cubs just get to put whatever quotes they want in all the local media outlets and spin this like they're the victims. A contract's a contract, live up to it.

I just hope this lawsuit somehow saves Ricketts from himself. Eroding everything that's special and unique about Wrigley Field while putting out a horrible product year-after-year doesn't seem like a great recipe for long-term success. But I'm sure I'll hear it from everyone who thinks the Cubs should just move to Warrenville because it's hard to park in the city.

I disagree with basically every word of this post. Well I agree a contract is a contract I guess. Beyond that wrigley field is eroding and filled with drunk yuppies. What's so awesome about that? I think it's noble to try and retain the field with improvements that might generate revenue and make the team competitive. It hasn't been the 'friendly confines' in decades. As far as the product on the field, that Ricketts has improved the organization is indisputable to all but the most casual fan. As far as the contract I don't know the entire story but if that contract ends anytime in the next 5-10 years this negotiation is short sighted as hell on the part of the rooftop parasites. Just my 2 cents though.

One more thing. If anything I think the organization of the rooftops into marketable profit streams has been more offensive to me than anything else. There is nothing 'traditional' about the formal rooftop risers for those of us who started watching in the 60's.

A contract IS a contract -- but in commercial law, if a contract is no longer advantageous for the Cubs, they can break the contract and pay the damages. Nothing sacred about a contract or dishonorable about breaking it and paying the requisite damages. The amount of damages would be the difference between the rooftops' income (and property value) with the obstructions being put up and without the obstructions. That may be significant -- and it may be very little. That would have to be worked out between the parties involved -- or in court, if they can't agree on a figure.

A contract doesn't freeze the parties into what they agreed on at the time it was signed. Things happen and circumstances change. When they do, you break the agreement and pay fair compensation for what the parties lost out on -- and you move on. The Wrigley renovation may actually have very little commercial effect on the rooftop owners. They are going to have to prove otherwise.


it won't be Scott Baker, Maholm and Hammel still on the radar

hammel fits this team's profile...great stuff in an arm that hasn't put it together yet which should play it's way into a contract with risk + upside.

"Padres acquired LHP Alex Torres and RHP Jesse Hahn from the Rays for INF Logan Forsythe, RHPs Brad Boxberger, Matt Andriese, Matt Lollis and INF Maxx Tissenbaum."

i wonder what TB is seeing in that crop of players while giving up a.torres...seems odd. torres really deserves the chance to start again. he was pretty much used there out of necessity and a loaded SP rather than talent limitations.

yeah, this rooftop thing is a mess


Cubs in 2025!!!!

Really....how many more times is Ricketts going to let himself (and the Cubs) get bitch slapped by these rooftop parasites? Not to mention the Tunney/Rahm circle jerk.

MOVE, dammit!!! Go anywhere outside of the city limits where you get the best land deal, etc. and the Cubs control all the revenue streams - advertising, hotels, concessions, tickets and parking.

You do that or they reach a very costly settlement that pays the leaches their pound of flesh until the contract expires. I'm coming to the conclusion that Ricketts is more of a Wrigley Field fan than savvy businessman.

I hate the Tanaka contract and would be a nervous wreck if we paid that for him. That said, the competitive childhood sports fan in me just wants to poke his head out and say: go screw yourself Tanaka. You are now my least favorite player ever. Enjoy the no-win PR pressure cooker of NYC and I hope you suck fisheads for the entirety if your MLB career. You could have been part of the greatest mlb story ever (the cubs winning the World Series after 110 years etc.). Instead you went to cliche-town for absurd money.

Also as an aside I really did wonder how weird the Cubs' clubhouse would be with the $25 million dollar a year rookie dwarfing the rest of the roster.

But yeah. I hate your guts Tanaka.

yanks get tanaka...cubs get threatened to sue by rooftop owners over expansions that don't even have permits yet.

the 2014 cubs team MVP is probably going to be a lawyer-to-be-named.

Red Sox end up signing Sizemore...750K base, up to $6M.

Ian Stewart with minor league deal from Angels, spring training invite...twitter privileges if he makes major league team.

Recent comments

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  • I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.

  • Awesome stuff, Phil.

  • listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.

    That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.

  • it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
    should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?

    sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.

  • HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).  

    Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.

  • I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.

  • One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players. 

  • CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis  at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely. 

  • Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.

  • As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?

  • AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?

  • Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.

  • AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.

  • I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.

    But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.

  • Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.

    Jason deGrom -- oh, my.

  • Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.

    Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.