COMMENTARY | OK, I'll admit it, I'm a total and complete wuss when it comes to long-term contracts in baseball.
And I'm not even the one footing the bill. The extent of my experience from the bleachers of Cubs Nation are the accompany nightmares to Alfonso Soriano's seven-year, $136 million contract that he signed all the way back in 2006.
And while we all watch the Los Angeles Angels drown in their ludicrous contract to an ailing Albert Pujols, and prepare to watch the Seattle Mariners do the same with Robinson Cano, I ask the Chicago Cubs one thing: Please, please, do not sign Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Please.
For some strange reason, Theo Epstein and company have been highly criticized for putting out shoddy major league clubs as they rebuild the organization. Approaching Year Three, people are getting antsy, impatient, and occasionally downright angry.
While I'm not overly sure what those particular people expected from a team planning to be mired in the doldrums of minor league rebuilding, but Tanaka is not the puzzle piece worth blowing up all this hard-earned patience we've all been cultivating since Epstein took over.
Tanaka's age and numbers suggest he's worth just about whatever he asks for. And history for top-of-the-line Japanese pitchers says that that's about what he'll get in a contract. He's only 25, has a career ERA of 2.30, is 99-35, and has about a 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. On paper, there is basically nothing to dislike about the man.
But this piece isn't really about whether or not Tanaka is going to live up to his billing, it's about how Tanaka would be a terrible fit for the Chicago Cubs.
Yeah, I know, the Cubs need starting pitching like the world needs water (especially if Jeff Samardzija happens to get shipped off). And, yes, I know the Cubs are going to need to spend big money on somebody eventually, but a year (or two) away from your top prospects even cracking the majors just doesn't seem like the time to do it. In fact, it specifically feels like the time to not do it -- especially on someone who hasn't even had the opportunity to prove his value in the majors.
This isn't to suggest that all these prospects are going to pan out either -- the prospects in mind aren't even pitchers -- but the time to spend the big money should come once the Cubs know what they have and what they don't in those prospects. They would consequently know who they could trade without handicapping the organization, and, more importantly, which positions they could consider filled.
And while anyone with eyes can see the Cubs need help in the starting rotation, spending over $100 million (most likely) to get one player who plays, at best, one out of every five games on a team with more holes than Bonnie and Clyde's getaway car seems beyond silly.
So, I'll plead one more time: Please don't sign Masahiro Tanaka.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo Contributor Network and Yahoo Sports. He is also a senior majoring in Creative Writing.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chicago Cubs
- Masahiro Tanaka