With under a week until he has to make a decision, the race to sign 25-year-old Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka is heating up. While the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have been pegged as favorites from the beginning, the Chicago Cubs are emerging as a strong threat to steal him away.
For the Dodgers, the interest has been there from the start, but it’s wavered from serious to lukewarm throughout the process. The strongest indication about their interest came after they signed Clayton Kershaw to a record-breaking extension, saying they want to add another starting pitcher and have remained in constant contact with Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close.
However, according to Nikkan Sports via Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com, the Dodgers were among five teams to submit formal offers:
— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) January 19, 2014
At the GM Meetings this week, several executives believe the Cubs are going to “blow away the field” with an offer. However, it’s been reported that the 25-year-old right-hander wants to win and his wife, a pop-star, prefers to live on the West Coast.
Tanaka has until January 24 at 2 pm PST to choose a team, with the team that signs him responsible for paying the modest $20 million posting fee. For the Dodgers, adding him to the fold would give them arguably the best pitching rotation in all of baseball and most likely make them the favorites to win the 2014 World Series.
The Nikkan report suggests the Diamondbacks offered six-years and $120 million, with the Dodgers and Yankees believed to be offering equivalent contracts. Close has kept most of the negotiations close to the vest and it sounds like things are starting to heat up as it’s within a week of him needing to make a decision.
UPDATE: Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times:
Beware reports suggesting Cubs have high offer on table for Tanaka or that he’s favoring Cubs. Multiple sources say Cubs remain long shots.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) January 19, 2014
ICYMI: Here’s where the Dodgers interest is in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka