The Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes are winding down to the last few days. After his posting was delayed over a month due to extensive negotiations between MLB and NPB, he officially posted on December 24. Under the new agreement, the Japanese right-hander essentially became a free agent able to negotiate with anyone, just with an added $20 million release fee attached to his final contract. He was given one month to negotiate with clubs and agree to a contract before he would miss out on American baseball in 2014 and now it seems like we're almost there.
News and rumors have been all over the place these last few days with everyone becoming the team to beat and everyone else declaring they will not be outbid. Now there is word coming out that Tanaka is deciding between the Yankees and Cubs. There were some rumors that he preferred the East or West coasts, leaving out Chicago, but now people think the Cubs offered a contract that is hard to walk away from.
Last week, it was believed that the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox, and Diamondbacks all placed competitive bids on the 25-year-old superstar. There was at least one report saying that Arizona's contract offer was for $120 million over six year, though it's unknown if that's even close to the highest. Right now we're all in wait-and-see mode because Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, has kept a clamp on all information about the ongoing negotiations. What little we have heard is either just random conjecture from baseball writers trying to be the first to report some bit of news, or terribly translated reports coming out of Japan that may or may not be any more reliable.
While Friday is the deadline, we might know his decision as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday to allow time for a formal physical and all the details to be worked out. He needs to have a deal signed by the end of the week if he wants to be playing Major League Baseball this year.