The latest on Masahiro Tanaka from Monday, January 20, 2014:
- Tanaka attended Takeshi Yamasaki's retirement party on Sunday. He did not provide any updates about his posting. ... The Yankees, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and White Sox have reportedly submitted formal offers. The offers may have been six-year deals over 120 million US dollars. ... He was testing new cleats made for the harder mounds in the United States during his bullpen session at the indoor training facilities at Kobo Stadium on the 18th. The new cleats are black with white and gold stripes. They are from ASICS. ... Tanaka has spent time working on his lower body this off-season in preparation for the harder mounds in the United States. [Sanspo 1/20/2014]
- Tanaka tossed about forty pitches, including breaking balls, in the bullpen today. He did not speak to reporters after his workouts. 2nd round draft pick Yasuhito Uchida caught the session. [Sanspo 1/20/2014] ... According to Nikkan Sports, he threw thirty-nine pitches in the bullpen. [Nikkan Sports 1/20/2014]
- Munenori Kawasaki would like to see Tanaka perform some Momoiro Clover Z dance steps. Not necessarily for the benefit of the fans, but for Tanaka himself. Perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek. [Sponichi 1/20/2014]
And some headlines from the United States...
CSN Chicago's Tony Andracki provides some quotes about Tanaka from Saturday's Cubs Convention:
... Pro scouting director Joe Bohringer has been familiar with Tanaka since he saw the young right-hander in Japan while working with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008.
Bohringer and the Cubs have seen Tanaka every year since, including the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where he competed against some of Major League Baseball's best players.
"Any time we had a chance to see him get in an arena like that,” Bohringer said, “where we knew he was facing major league caliber players and watching his success or failure, that gives us a better idea of how he would actually be if we translate it to the major leagues.
Tanaka is still a prospect. But because he's played at such a higher level of competition, it makes us feel a little more comfortable with our overall evaluation for how it's going to translate."
Source: CSN Chicago 1/18/2014
CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney has a bit more:
"I think any team in baseball would love a 25-year-old starting pitcher," said Jason McLeod, the vice president of scouting and player development. "We've scouted him extensively over the years (through) our pro scouting staff and a lot of video work that we've done on him. So the evaluation process is complete.
"He's obviously talented. We understand — I think everyone understands — that’s not the same level of competition (in) Japan. But he's a talented pitcher, and I'm sure the team that gets him is going to be happy."
Source: CSN Chicago 1/19/2014
Tanaka wants to play in a city that has a Japanese population and the Cubs will do what they can to sign him. From CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine:
... Tanaka is known to want a city to play in where the Japanese population and its culture is vibrant and readily accessible for him and his wife. The dollars are of course a deciding factor in the 25-year-old pitcher’s final decision. Bidding teams learned early in the process that the price of poker would begin at six years and $100 million. Many have speculated that Tanaka could receive as much as $150 million from the winning bidder. Those figures however have been driven by media speculation more so than actual knowledge of the contract talks.
... A source for this story said the Cubs will use every ethical strategy they can to get Tanaka to say yes to their offer. Indications are club has told the pitcher he would be their ace and grow with the top rated minor league talent that is starting to make its way through the system. A source from the Japanese side of this said Tanaka has the type of personality that would accept the challenge of being the lead man on building a young championship team.
The Cubs may have offered Tanaka a seven-year deal. From Chicago Now's Tom Loxas:
... I was told tonight the industry buzz places the Cubs offer in the neighborhood of $160 million for 7 years.
That offer does not include the $20 million posting fee, I'm told.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer thinks the Cubs are "long shots."
... Despite reports that continue to call the Cubs front-runners for Masahiro Tanaka, signing the 25-year-old right-hander is a long shot for the team, which remains skeptical of its chances even with an aggressive effort.