NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s been a new development in the pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka.
The Japanese right-hander has at least three legitimate suitors, with a fourth apparently entering the fray on Thursday.
According to FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Chicago Cubs are extremely interested in signing the 25-year-old phenom.
If true, the Cubs would join the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels as legitimate landing spots for Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball and is considered the prize of remaining free agent pitchers.
The Yankees remain in desperate need of a stud starter. If spring training started Friday they would open camp with CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda as their top three in the rotation, with Michael Pineda, David Phelps and others competing for the other two spots.
The Yankees would prefer Pineda and Phelps duke it out for the fifth spot, and have made it fairly clear they are prepared to do what’s necessary to bring Tanaka to New York. Adding to their approach to landing Tanaka, who could get a minimum of $17 million per season to pitch in the majors, is the fact that the arbitration ruling on Alex Rodriguez’s suspension gives the Yankees an additional $22 million to work with.
According to several reports, the Dodgers remain interested in Tanaka but the decision to go above and beyond rests with ownership since the team agreed to a historic seven-year, $215 million extension with left-hander Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday.
The Cubs, who have not qualified for the postseason since 2008 and don’t have a playoff win since the 2003 NLCS, need star power in their rotation, but it’s not known how far general manager Theo Epstein will go if the idea is to outbid the free-spending Yankees, Dodgers and Angels.
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