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Cubs have made “real” offer to Masahiro Tanaka, according to report

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(USA Today)

The clock is ticking toward the deadline for Masahiro Tanaka to reach an agreement with a major league organization. Tanaka has until 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 24, which means reports and speculation could reach a fever pitch at any moment.

In the meantime, Bruce Levine of WCSR in Chicago is reporting the Chicago Cubs are the first known team to have made a “real” offer to Tanaka during their meeting last week.

It’s not exactly surprising news. In fact, Levine's wording made it sound more like he was confirming the obvious, which he basically was. Also, it’s highly likely the Cubs are far from the only team to have made a real or significant offer, but it could support reports that the Cubs have gone all in with their offer and will be difficult to outbid.

That works in the Cubs favor, too, if true.

Of course, when asked about their offer while meeting with fans and media at the Cubs Convention on Saturday morning, team president Theo Esptein and general manager Jed Hoyer were reserved with their comments.

Landing Tanaka would certainly expedite the Cubs rebuilding plans. Current ace Jeff Samardzija, who has been in and out of negotiations for a contract extension for the past year, admits that if Tanaka joined him atop the Cubs rotation, it would make staying in Chicago long-term a much more appealing option.

From The Chicago Sun-Times:

‘‘Obviously, it changes that timeline,’’ said Samardzija, who consistently has said the Cubs’ commitment to trying to win at the big-league level in the short term is one of his top priorities in negotiations. ‘‘And that’s what we’re talking about.

‘‘I’ve mentioned my frustration with the ‘R’ word before. You bring him in, and that ‘R’ word essentially kind of disintegrates.

Epstein and Hoyer say they knew what they were getting into when agreeing to take over the Cubs rebuild, but it's easy to forget the players themselves didn't sign up for that process. Samardzija's frustration is easy to understand, and it will be interesting to see how the Tanaka decision influences his plans.

Obviously the Cubs would prefer a Tanaka-Samardzija 1-2 punch and are working to make that happen. By the same token, they also face the real possibility of moving on without both and continuing their rebuild at a less than desirable pace. Talk about testing the patience of Cubs fans? That's one scenario that would certainly do it.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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