By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — It was a rough day for both of Chicago’s baseball teams on Wednesday when it was learned that Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka took a 7 year $155 million contract offer to play for the New York Yankees.
Both Chicago clubs were stealth in there approach and subsequent offer to the 25-year-old pitcher. The two made solid offers, according to industry sources with the Cubs having been rumored to go as high as $177 million in one unconfirmed report. Despite the money factor it would appear that the rumors of the pitcher wanting to play on one of the coasts was a factor.
Maybe the most compelling argument for Tanaka choosing the Yankee offer was the recent and in New York’s case historic winning tradition that won out. The Chicago teams had plenty of money and tradition to offer but nothing in the way of competitive teams the last 5 years. Neither team has come close to a playoff bid except for the Sox 117 days in first place in 2012. Last season the teams combined for a city record 195 losses, hardly the thing a free agent from another country would be looking for in the short term.
The Cubs have yet to comment on the bidding for Tanaka. White Sox GM Rick Hahn had a phone conference to describe the Sox pursuit of the pitcher
“Tanaka, we felt could compliment and fit in nicely to the other things we have accomplished and fit in the rotation right behind Chris Sale,” said Hahn. “Obviously things did not work out and we are not going to get into any details in regard to our offer. I will say the reports about the intent and seriousness of our offer were somewhat accurate.”
The perception of a losing club is difficult to get past. Slugger Jose Abreu didn’t let that cloud his decision when he took $68 million from the White Sox in November but the stigma is real when free agents of all races, shapes and sizes are making their final choices. All of us who live here in the greatest city in the world know what a privilege it is to say “I am a Chicagoan.” Selling that to baseball free agents has become more difficult in recent times.