With Masahiro Tanaka entering the final week of his decision-making process, things have been relatively quiet on that front, with the exception of a handful of rumors that most in the industry do not believe.
Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close of Excel Sports Management, has an excellent reputation throughout the game with multiple executives telling me that he is as fair as they get in the representation business. He is known to be very closed-mouth with the media when it comes to negotiations with his clients and general managers throughout the game consider him a very good communicator, keeping all interested parties equally apprised of the situation.
Close has had a lot on his plate in the past few weeks, but that should start to dissipate with Tanaka’s deadline for agreeing to a deal coming up on Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. Close just completed a record deal for Clayton Kershaw and he has been busy with arbitration filings, which are due Friday. Once those are completed, his attention will turn to Tanaka, who needs to get a deal done probably by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest, so he has time to complete an extensive medical exam by next Friday’s deadline. MLB will not extend the deadline for medicals to be completed beyond the January 24th deadline.
That means teams that are holding out hope of landing the Japanese pitching sensation need to have some idea this weekend of where they stand so that if they are not going to land him, they can move quickly on the top unsigned arms still left on the market. Pitchers like Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez should see the starting pitching free agent logjam start to break in the next five to seven days as the Tanaka situation starts to play itself out.
A highly-placed MLB source told me this morning the Cubs “are sitting at the table with the game’s heavyweights” and are prepared to spend an insane amount of money for Tanaka. However, that same source believes that it won’t come down to the last dollar for Tanaka. Instead, he believes that it will come down to which situation feels the most comfortable for Tanaka and his family.
"Look, wherever he goes he is going to get crazy money. Remember, this guy has never thrown one pitch in the big leagues," the source told me. "It just comes down to how crazy it gets and how much he wants to pitch in a particular situation. The Yankees feel that they have to have him. The Dodgers would like to have him. That’s a big difference. The Cubs know that they need him because they have to find top-end starting pitching as they continue this massive rebuilding process. He also helps to fix their image, which is taking a big hit due to all of the losing.
"The Angels, Diamondbacks, Mariners and Red Sox are all viable options as well, so the chances of a team that is not ready to contend landing him are definitely slim. But, Theo is as connected a guy as there is in the game and he has money to spend. I wouldn’t count him out, but again, it will be tough to beat teams that are ready to win."