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The Masahiro Tanaka Derby Has Begun!

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The Japanese star is in the United States, meeting with teams, including, reportedly, the Cubs.

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For as much as we've heard about Masahiro Tanaka and the process that got him posted to come from Japan's NPB to MLB, we're apparently not going to hear much about his contract discussions with major-league teams, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman:

Superstar free-agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka kicked off his free agency in earnest with clandestine meetings Wednesday and will see as many as a dozen or so teams by Friday in the Los Angeles area. The Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Yankees and Diamondbacks are believed to be among teams to have meetings planned.

Tanaka, who is expected to receive in excess of $100 million, and perhaps well in excess of that figure, is scheduled to be seen by a Los Angeles doctor while there in order to provide a medical status to all the interested teams.

There was no official word from any of the teams said to have meetings planned, as it appears this is being taken as a heavily guarded secret.

Ooh! Sooper seekrut! I wonder if Theo Epstein has scouted out all the Starbucks near wherever Tanaka is staying in Los Angeles. It's probably better for him to be in L.A. than in Chicago, where the temperature is still well below freezing. Theo can let Tanaka know, after he buys him a frappucino, that it's a short 45-minute flight to the Phoenix area to see the Cubs' great new spring-training complex. Or maybe they could get in the car and drive there; it's only about six hours and they could have some road-trip adventures.

Get creative, Theo; you have at least five competitors:

It isn't known which other teams have a meeting planned besides the two Los Angeles teams, the two Chicago teams, the Yankees and Diamondbacks.

It is believed Tanaka, with agent Casey Close there, may have as many as five or six meetings planned per day, and the meetings are definitely continuing today.

The deadline for signing Tanaka -- the end of the 30-day posting period mandated by the new MLB/NPB agreement -- is January 24, two weeks from tomorrow. The Cubs Convention is next weekend. Wouldn't it be nice if Theo could bring Tanaka there and introduce him?