By Shawn Gakhal – Senior Staff Reporter
Courtesy NY Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org Many baseball fans know that Masahiro Tanaka—star pitcher for the Japanese team the Rakuten Golden Eagles—is kind of a big deal.
At only 25 years old, he posted a blistering 24-0 record with a 1.27 earned run average in the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League this past year.
Those are some gaudy numbers, but the question when it comes to Japanese prospects is whether they can prosper in the MLB.
Well, we’ll find out soon, as MLB.com reported earlier last week that Tanaka inked a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees.
Leading up to the signing, various reports from ESPN and other MLB sources had the Chicago Cubs as a likely favorite.
Why were teams clawing at the chance to sign Tanaka?
The success of star pitcher Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish the last few years had eased the general managers’ worries of various MLB teams that import pitchers can throw fire in the MLB.
For the Yankees, this is a great deal, because well, they are the Yankees.
However, many baseball pundits may be ripping the Cubs as losers for missing out on Tanaka.
Was paying Tanaka a fortune really the best option, with the Cubs rebuilding through the farm system?
In my opinion, no.
Sure, the Cubs are thin with pitching prospects, but paying a ransom for a pitcher who hasn’t thrown a strike in the majors doesn’t seem smart.
Plus, it doesn’t make any sense to pay that high a premium for a pitcher who will likely be on a team that will lose 90 plus games again.
I’m sure Tanaka will post a solid ERA in the amature league, because he’ll be the new kid on the block and will surprise many.
He probably won’t be that surefire number one ace that the Yankees will expect him to be.
And for a rebuilding team like the Cubs, they need to strengthen their farm system, be smart with their money and spend efficiently in the free agent market — that includes not overpaying for an unknown in Tanaka.