The decision has been made. Much speculation has been made about whether or not the Rakuten Golden Eagles would post their superstar pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and let him join a major league ball club. The president of the Golden Eagles, Yozo Tachibana, put an end to the speculation when he decided to post Masahiro Tanaka. Now any major league baseball team has the opportunity to negotiate a contract with Tanaka, and the team that lands the flamethrower will have to pay the Golden Eagles a fee of $20 million dollars as posting fee.
Tanaka’s dominance in the Nippon Professional Baseball League will force teams to reach deep into their pockets in order to sign him. Several teams have been rumored as front runners including the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, possibly even the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Angles. Tanaka’s major contract may strike a bidding war for the services of the superstar, and because of this the Yankees and the Dodgers seem to be the early favorites because of their large payroll. However, the Chicago Cubs need a player like Masahiro Tanaka to boost their rebuilding process.
President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, has made it known that he believes building a minor league system filled with talent will give them the best opportunity to win a world series. Since joining the Cubs, Epstein hasn’t been willing to spend big money in free agency with the mindset that free agency will not fix the Cubs problems. Although no one is questioning Theo’s thought process of building up the farm system, he cannot turn a blind eye to free agency. Epstein has brought in dozens of prospects, but no one knows how many, if any, of the prospects turn into game changing type players. The Cubs need to sign established players that they know will make a difference on the major league level.
Masahiro Tanaka, although not having pitched in the MLB, has proven himself in the Nippon professional baseball league posting a 24-0 record last season on his way to leading the Golden Eagles to a championship. Some argue that Tanaka’s numbers won’t be as good in the MLB because the majors have a higher degree of difficulty, although this might be true, it is hard to say that Tanaka won’t be an effective pitcher in the big leagues. By signing with the Cubs he would join a relatively established pitching staff led by Jeff Samardzija (for now) and Travis Wood, so even if Tanaka isn’t the ace he was in Japan at worst he would be an extremely effective number 2 or 3 pitcher, which is exactly what the Cubs need.
Theo Epstein and co. were brought to Chicago to help the Cubs hoist the World Series Trophy for the first time in over one hundred years. Although they have taken steps in the right direction in the minor league system, fans are still waiting to see the results at the major league level. Epstein was brought here to get good players, and develop young ones in the farm system. During his tenure with the Cubs his biggest free agency sign was pitcher Edwin Jackson prior to the 2013 campaign (Jackson went 8-18 in 2013). The Cubs desperately need to sign Masahiro Tanaka not only to improve their 2014 roster, but to improve their chances of finally grasping a World Series title in the near future. The chances of Tanaka becoming a Cub are slim, and if Tanaka doesn’t sign with the Cubs it will be another long season on the north side. Theo needs to use some of that magic he used in Boston to get Tanaka, or else fans will start to give up on the 2014 season before it even starts.