None of the interest that Masahiro Tanaka has attracted has come as as a surprise, given his age and unique talents on the mound, but it sounds as though the right-hander could be ready to take a big step in his ongoing negotiations with Major League teams. Tanaka is scheduled to be in Chicago later this week and will meet with both the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, according to Luke Stuckmeyer of CSN Chicago.
Since Tanaka was posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles there have been plenty of teams with rumored interest, but this appears to be the first visit that the 25 year old has made to meet with a team in person.
Neither Chicago team has been prominently featured in rumblings about Tanaka. Most of those conversations have revolved around the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, and Arizona Diamondbacks. Countless other teams have been in the mix, though a few have already publicly stated that they’ll remain out of the equation.
Both Chicago clubs are in various stages of rebuilding and neither appears to be in an immediate position to contend, but perhaps that’s what makes having to give Tanaka a long term deal (presumably seven years) a justifiable move given the talent each organization has working towards being MLB-ready. Changes in the posting system have, of course, made an impact as well given the $20 Million limitation to the posting fee that Rakuten could ask for. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the fee itself will actually be broken into two payments – one this year of $13 Million and a second next year of $7 Million – which should make it even easier for teams to jump into the mix.
Seattle and New York still appear to be the favorites to land Tanaka, but it will be interesting to see just how many offers are formally made to Tanaka over the coming weeks. The deadline that teams have to sign him is January 24th, just over three weeks away.