Cubs in the Tanaka homestretch?

It’s been a long, cold winter for Chicago Cubs fans, made only darker by the absence of free agent signings and the recent appearance of Clark the Cub. Could it be about to get a whole lot better?

There’s been a lot of recent buzz about the Cubs making a big play for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. In the past few days, that buzz has ramped up considerably. Behold:






And here’s what our new beat reporter Mark Gonzales has to say:

There are nine days left in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, and the Chicago Cubs apparently are trying to make the biggest splash in what has been a relatively quiet winter.

The Cubs have made little secret of their interest in Tanaka, and they are intensifying their interest, according to a tweet by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

The Cubs still face stiff competition from the pitching-thirsty New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, who agreed to terms with left-hander Clayton Kershaw on a staggering seven-year, $215 million contract.

A team source believes the Boston Red Sox also were lurking, but Tanaka, 25, fits the profile that Cubs President Theo Epstein seeks as a free agent entering the prime of his career.

An international scout whose team isn’t involved in the Tanaka sweepstakes said the Cubs did a thorough job of scouting Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League.

The conventional wisdom on Twitter is that Tanaka is pre-destined to be a Dodger, but their ginormous signing of Clayton Kershaw yesterday seems to make that more unlikely, if only a little. Anyway, Californians can never wrap their minds around the fact that someone would choose to live somewhere other than California. Granted, the polar vortex didn’t do us any favors last week, but let’s hope part of the delegation to meet with Tanaka includes Tom Skilling, who can use science to convince Tanaka of how great our summers are. Really, he only has to get through April and he’ll be good!

If you haven’t been following along, all the baby Cubs are in Chicago this week for Cubs Con, and they’ve been making the rounds; taking in a Blackhawks game (where in David DeJesus shot the puck, WTF?) and taking to the batting cages for the media yesterday. We learned from the Cubs’ Jason McLeod (who has an official title but who I like to call “Dude in Charge of Finding Young Dudes –which now that I’ve written it out, sounds kind of dodgy) that Javier Baez will start the season at AAA Iowa, Kris Bryant will start at AA, and the jury is still out on Soler and Almora.

In other news, the Cubs signed outfielder and 2009 NL ROY Chris Coughlan to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. I feel like the Cubs have a shit-ton of outfielders, but we’ll see what happens in Spring Training.

Finally, in a bout of hilarity we haven’t seen for a while from the Cubs, Communications VP Julian Green issued a statement to the effect that the Cubs were “standing by their mascot.” Because, of course, his very existence was threatened by people bitching about him on Twitter. Incidentally, a “we’re standing by our whatever” statement is usually what a team issues right before someone gets canned. He might as well have said “REX IS OUR QUARTERBACK.” Here’s some free advice for Julian and the rest of the crew over at Clark and Addison:

1) Twitter bitching isn’t real bitching. No one is seriously outraged that the Cubs have anointed a cartoon bear team ambassador; and

2) The only sure fire way to add fuel to a Twitter firestorm is to acknowledge it and take a defensive stance. Ignore it and it will go away.

Cubs Con 2014 kicks off tomorrow. Don’t forget our meetup Friday night at 8 pm at Lizzie’s Irish Pub at 400 N. McClurg Court. Hope to see you all there!

21 thoughts on “Cubs in the Tanaka homestretch?

  1. Doc Blume says:

    “Beware of the Cubs”

    That’s all the same shit we’ve heard on every other major free agent since Theo and Jed arrived in town 2 years ago.

  2. Doc Blume says:

    All I have to say about Clark is that if the Cubs intend to have a goofy mascot…they better go all in with it. Clark had better be dancing on top of the dugout to Baby Elephant Dance every single game, and cause chaos up in the center field scoreboard just like the San Diego Chicken used to do when he visited Wrigley.

  3. juliedicaro says:

    Well, it IS beware of the Cubs, it’s just a long time table.

  4. Dusty Baylor says:

    Really? I hadn’t heard about the Cubs chasing any of the “big name” free agents the last 2 seasons.

    1. Dwer says:

      there weren’t any worth chasing.

  5. NotAgain says:

    I missed the part where Tanaka went from deciding to pitch in Japan again this upcoming season (that was the last I heard) to him being available as a FA signing.

  6. johnnywest333 says:

    It’s all smoke and mirrors. The Yankess will land him.

  7. Doc Blume says:

    Even with the Kershaw contract, I think the Dodgers land him. And I think he wants to go to the Dodgers too.

  8. sloanpeterson2 says:

    If the Cubs want to sign Tanaka, they should do two things:1. Show Tanaka the footage of today’s fire in Glendora, CA. Explain how the fire grew to 1500 acres in 30 minutes. Explain that CA had no winter and the dryest winter in history. Also inform him that water rationing will start in CA in 30 days.
    2. For god’s sake, DO NOT show Tanaka Clark the Cub. Clark the Cub would never be considered “kawaii”>(cute)

  9. juliedicaro says:

    That last comment was for Doc. Why do you think he wants to go the Dodgers? Based on what?

  10. dabirdguy says:

    No where in any of the publications I have seen are the Cubs been mentioned as a likely destination.
    I don’t think that the reporters out there realize the pressure that is building for Theo to do SOMETHING.
    The Cubs front office may have the MOST pressing need to sign him because of the drop off in ticket sales.
    My guess is that he ends up in Seattle. There nay be an under the counter deal to help his old team financially that he will be honor bound to take. Remember the squawk about the rumor he would pay for stadium upgrades? AND they need to make more moves like the Cano signing to restore the faith of their masses.

  11. Doc Blume says:

    It’s closer to Japan. It’s just a gut feel. Overall, I think the west coast teams are more attractive to the Japanese players.

  12. Doc Blume says:

    For dabirdguy…

    If the Cubs front office thinks an unproven Japanese starting pitcher is going to significantly alter ticket sales, then they are more clueless than I thought. Paying a player $140 million so they can get an extra 5k in attendance every 5th home game would result in about $2.5 million in additional revenue a year. Not a smart idea if they are doing it for the purpose of selling more tickets.

    1. Scotti says:

      If the Cubs are able to sell an extra 5k tickets for 16 home starts then that its WAY more than $2.5 million. Tickets would have to be $31.25 and none of those fans would have any beer, dogs, etc. Gate and concessions alone would be $6 million on that figure. That doesn’t include an increase in seasons ticket sales, ad buys, increased revenue from more wins from replacing ther fifth starter with Tanaka, etc.

  13. sloanpeterson2 says:

    Now Seattle makes sense for Tanaka…

  14. Doc Blume says:

    No matter what…it’s not going to approach what Tanaka’s salary is. And if this team starts playing better, those Tanaka’s affect on attendance is even further diminished.

    1. Scotti says:

      Simply not true. Between revenue not lost (the Cubs have been losing 200k plus ticket sales every year not to mention hundreds of thousands of no-shows), additional tickets and concessions sold, ad buys, partnerships (like the Budweiser Bleachers), a new TV contact, etc., adding Tanaka is MORE than paid for at even $25 million in that first year.

      In terms of winning, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Other teams want Tanaka in order to help them win–that’s why he’s expensive. He should help the Cubs win as well.

  15. dabirdguy says:

    Long term….
    If Theo doesn’t bring home a WORLD SERIES appearance within 7 years he and his cronies will likely be ousted. He is 2 years into that. He needs to start grabbing proven pitching now. This guy is as close to that as possible without giving up talent in return..
    I think the Cubs will force the bidding go to over $250 mil. The only winner in this is Tanaka. His timing was perfect.

  16. NotAgain says:

    The World’s Most Interesting Man speaks the truth.

    1. Scotti says:

      Heh. More like the world’s must interesting man has a lot of time on hands and a calculator app on his phone.

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