Report: Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs ‘Pushing Hard’ for Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro TanakaTheo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the Chicago Cubs aren’t bystanders in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. The Cubs appear to be very much involved.

The Cubs are “pushing hard” for Tanaka, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees reportedly are involved in the bidding as well.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported last week that the Dodgers were planning to go “all-out” to sign Tanaka. The Dodgers have since signed Clayton Kershaw to a seven-year, $215 million contract, although FOX Sports reported Thursday that Los Angeles still plans to pursue another starting pitcher.

The Yankees have been linked to Tanaka all winter, so it’s possible they’ll cook up a solid offer, especially now that they are saving money by virtue of Alex Rodriguez‘s season-long suspension.

The reports surrounding the Angels are somewhat conflicting, as ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Halos continue to insist that they are not seriously involved in the Tanaka sweepstakes.

The Cubs are an interesting potential destination because they are trying to rebuild. Since Tanaka is just 25 years old, the right-hander certainly could join Chicago’s effort to climb out of the American League Central cellar. There also has been talk this winter that the Cubs might consider trading Jeff Samardzija.

Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball last season, has until Jan. 24 to finalize a deal with a Major League Baseball club. The Japanese ace figures to earn a contract in the $100 million-$120 million range, which would bring the total investment to around $140 million, as Tanaka’s signing team will need to pay his former Japanese club a $20 million posting fee.

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