Sports

Levine: Cubs May Be In Lead For Tanaka

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Masahiro Tanaka. (Credit:  JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images))

Masahiro Tanaka. (Credit: JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images))

Bruce Levine Bruce Levine
Bruce Levine covers both the Cubs and the White Sox for CBSChicago.co...
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By Bruce Levine-

(CBS) — According to MLB sources, the Chicago Cubs will be one of the finalists this week in the Masahiro Tanaka signing sweepstakes. The bidding will end on Thursday when the pitcher’s posting period expires.

A source told me on Saturday that the Cubs appeal to the Tanaka negotiating group, listed a chance to be the ace of the team and grow with the top rated young players that are developing in the organization.

“They have the ability to bid as much and in this case more than the Dodgers or Yankees,” said the baseball official. “They will be getting billions of dollars in their future local TV deal that they can use to sign this player. When their stadium project is completed they will have millions more to help entice the best talent to play in Chicago”

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.

Agent Casey Close has done a terrific job of keeping individual teams’ bids and meetings with clubs in-house. That kind of professional negotiating has pleased top team officials but has also put them on the defensive as too where the final dollar amount will end up for the pitcher who was 24-0 in 2013.

The Cubs front office view signing Tanaka as a game-changer in their pursuit of having a competitive team. They have the full support of team chairman Tom Ricketts and President of business operations Crane Kenney.

“We are a real fortunate team to have the resources that we do,” said Kenney on Saturday. “The choices we are making are ones that we are making with a lot of input and obviously Theo chooses the way we are going to build this thing. We hear the fans, they would like to see improvement at the major league level but that will come through the system. Resources are available and we are busy. I am not going to comment on Tanaka or anyone else that is really Theo’s area. We have resources and when we need them they will be there.”

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.

Follow Bruce on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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