Masahiro Tanaka will be heading to the USA to play baseball, if his Japanese team agrees to post him, something that hasn't happened quite yet, but appears likely to. In a secret as closely guarded as that Rick Astley may have whined a little bit in one or two of his songs, Theo Epstein will be actively seeking to ink Tanaka to a contract. One question remains: How much should the Cubs offer?
The Rakuten Golden Eagles righthander has a number of YouTube highlight videos. Here is one with a bit of a grunge-metal music backdrop. He has an arsenal of pitches, and gets enough from each of them to keep hitters guessing. He was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 0.943 WHIP last year, and grabbed a save in his relief outing. He had eight complete games, two shutouts and just three no-decisions.
The way I figure it, there are three options. Six, seven, and eight years. While a really sweet five-year deal miiiiiiight get it done, I doubt that will be the length. Because it costs them nothing unless they actually sign a posted player under the new agreement, all 30 teams might as well post bids of the $20 million maximum. Only the team that actually signs such a player will pay the full amount. That said, I expect Tanaka will soon be down to three or four realistic options, and the Cubs figure to be one.
He seems to be at or near his peak effectiveness. For the next three or four seasons, if healthy, he should be able to help pretty much any rotation. He will cost nothing but money. If the Cubs add Tanaka, and get production from Baez later in the season, free agents will less likely demand a "fourth or fifth place signing bonus." The Cubs might be able to get free agents next year, such as they will be, for a price close to what competitors pay.
To make discussion as easy as possible, feel free to post what your maximum bid would be for six, seven, and eight years. Watch for the Yankees and Mariners to make very solid runs at Tanaka as well. Editorial commentary encouraged as well.