Chicago Cubs: Just Let Tanaka Go
Let me start by saying this: I have never seen Masahiro Tanaka play but from the footage I’ve seen I’d love to see him in Cubbie blue.
He’s an incredible talent; So good in fact that once Yu Darvish left for America and the Major Leagues, he automatically became the best pitcher currently in Japan.
There are only 17 more days left in Tanaka’s 30-day signing period, with multiple teams anxiously awaiting a shot at the next pitching phenom.
However it would be in the Cubs best interest to pass on Tanaka at this time, no matter how incredible that argument may seem right now.
Tanaka, 25, has completely dominated Nippon Professional Baseball posting a perfect 24-0 record this past season to go along with his 1.27 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.
If you have any idea about what those numbers mean, then you know they’re down right awesome.
He also won the Sawamura Award this past season (The equivalent of MLB’s Cy Young).
Obviously any team could make room for a talent like this on their roster. But no matter how good that looks, the Cubs need him to go elsewhere.
Tanaka would also command a healthy chunk of the Cubs salary if signed.
The club is currently floating around in the $90-$105 Million range for salary “cap.”
If the Cubs offered and Tanaka accepted, they could easily be spending 15-25% of that amount on one pitcher.
Not only would they be spending that one one pitcher, but it’d be for nothing more than a circus act; a draw for customer to come see every 5-6 days in hopes of seeing some amazing pitching.
This would be great now, but down the road in 2016-17 when they want to be competitive, where will the money be?
According to current contracts, less than 10 players are under contract until that time, and many will be finished with arbitration and heading into their Unrestricted Free Agent years.
It takes a full 25 man roster to be competitive in today’s Major Leagues, with even a few Minor Leaguers thrown into the mix too.
Don’t expect the self imposed “cap” the Cubs are currently working with to go up anytime soon.
For now Epstein and Hoyer will have to make due, and to make due, they’ll have to stay away from those shiny new Free Agents that would command such huge contracts, or brand new MLB players being posted, like Tanaka.
The Cubs are looking to the future, and Masahiro Tanaka won’t be a part of it.
Well, the 2013 season is two weeks old and both Chicago teams are off to, as anticipated, a mediocre start. The South Side White Sox are 5-7 and 1.5 games back of The Detroit Tigers while the North Side Cubs are 4-8 and 4 games behind their Central division rivals The St. Louis Cardinals. Yes this is a terribly small sample size of the season, but let’s not kid ourselves.
Both teams have modestly functional pieces in play (Sale, Reed, Castro, Soriano) and a few surprises too (Schierholtz, Castillo, Flowers). Bright spots aside, the ultimate goal year in and year our is to win The world Series; This year won’t be it. Timely hitting has helped both teams so far but both pitching staffs have run the gambit of baseball emotions from sensational to tumultuous to a burning pile of ash (they’re getting torched).
If there is a “be all – end all” to the season for either ball club it’ll be the gents on the bump and their bullpen relievers. Although players like Addison Reed are quickly coming into their own, other like Carlos Marmol or Dylan Axelrod are flat out abysmal. Both team’s farm clubs are scarce on pitching prospects no matter what kind of excused they’d make (of which there truly are none.) But the (most likely) inevitable post season clubs (Dodgers, Atlanta, Boston) all have not only solid pitching staffs but reasonable farms systems.
Both teams have post season dreams, but this year that’s all they can be. With some hard work, solid drafting, and better than average player development, both clubs should find themselves to be post season regulars over the next few years (look for 2015).
I’m an optimistic person, but in this situation realistic circumstances trump otherwise lofty, unrealistic goals. I’d love to see both teams succeed, even if I do ordinarily root for the North Siders. And I’ll do just that: keep rooting, but with an er of patience. You should too. You’ll see. It’ll pay off soon enough.