Much debate has been made this offseason over the Japanese superstar pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka. The pride of the Nippon professional baseball league, Tanaka had an unbelievable 2013 campaign for his current team the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles posting a 24-0 record with a sparkling 1.27 ERA for the season. After winning the championship in Japan, Tanaka has set his sights on coming to play in the MLB, only if his team allows. In order for Tanaka to become a free agent in the MLB he has to be posted by his current team the Golden Eagles. Recently Major League Baseball and the Nippon professional baseball league have come to an agreement of a $20 million posting fee, meaning a major league baseball team would have to pay the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles a fee of $20 million dollars in order to have the rights to negotiate a contract with Tanaka.
There have been mixed reports if Tanaka will even be posted, and as the days go by the chances of him coming to the MLB this year grow smaller. However if posted, the $20 million dollar fee is music to the Chicago Cubs ears because it gives them a fighting chance to sign the flamethrower. Instead of having the New York Yankees, or another major market team, sweep the Golden Eagles off their feet with a massive amount of money for the posting fee, the $2o million cap gives the Cubs a chance to negotiate a deal, one that Masahiro Tanaka should take.
Although the chances of Tanaka pitching for the north siders next year are slim, coming to the Chicago Cubs could be the best decision of his career. From a money standpoint, signing with the Cubs would not be his best option because teams like the Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers have the resources to give him more money. However, taking a pay cut to play for the Cubs will pay off in the long run.
Making the leap to the MLB is difficult for any player, especially one that will have the weight of franchise on their shoulders like Tanaka. Mistakes are bound to occur, and success may not be reached right away. Playing for a team like the New York Yankees who always seem to be in a “win now” type of mentality, struggling is not an option. By joining the Yankees every start that Tanaka has will be put under the New York microscope and if it takes a season or two to adjust to the MLB his career in New York might be short one.
The 2014 Chicago Cubs will not win the world series, and no one expects them to. This is exactly why Tanaka should sign a contract with the North Siders. Obviously, he would like to perform well, but he might have some bumps in the road while getting used to the major leauges. By playing in Chicago, where no one thinks the Cubs will do well, his struggles will be overlooked and perhaps even welcomed so he can understand what it takes to be a pitcher in the MLB. Masahiro is only 25 so his best baseball is still ahead of him.
There are several teams that can offer Tanaka more money, or that can give him a legitimate shot at winning the World Series in 2014 like the Yankees, but the Cubs are the best bet for the future. Looking beyond the 2014 campaign, the Cubs have loads of talent in their minor league system that will be making their way to the MLB over the course of the next two seasons. Adjusting the type of play in the MLB with the Cubs in 2014 and 2015, will make Tanaka a seasoned veteran when the Cubs top prospects make their journey to the major leagues. Even though it might not be the perfect scenario, coming to the Cubs allows Tanaka to reach the prime of his career exactly when the prospects are ready to compete for a championship.
If Tanaka wins the World Series it will make him a great player, but if he wins a World Series with the Cubs it will make him a legend.