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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Cubs lose out on Tanaka

By Jesse Rogers

Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka would have been a solid -- albeit expensive -- building block for the Cubs' rotation.
CHICAGO -- Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka agreed Wednesday to a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees, according to a source, spurning the Chicago Cubs and several other teams.

What it means: The Cubs were a finalist but that doesn't do them much good now. They're still searching for a No. 1 starter in advance of becoming a contending team. Tanaka was attractive due to his age (25) as much as anything else.

How bad was losing out on Tanaka?: You have to look at it this way: The Cubs were trying to sign a No. 1 pitcher, who was coveted by top contending teams, while they languish in last place right now. It was an uphill battle from the start. In fact, if they never showed interest in him no one would be complaining because the thinking would be the Cubs weren't ready for that kind of signing. It was a long shot from the beginning but was worth the try. If a player like Tanaka becomes available in about two years, the Cubs will be in a better position to compete for him.

What's next: The Cubs won't try to fill their pitching void by simply signing the next big name on the free-agent market. For example, free agents Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are all over 30 years old. The Cubs have no interest in paying big money for pitchers who are flawed -- at least as top-of-the-rotation pitchers -- and will be in their mid-30s by the time the Cubs are ready to contend. They'll sign someone just to add a body to the rotation as they did last year with Scott Feldman and to an extent Scott Baker. In fact, Baker is available again. Don't expect them to find an ace right now.