New manager Rick Renteria, part of a contingent of Cubs personnel that met with Masahiro Tanaka last week in Los Angeles, said Thursday he hopes the team's youth movement pitch will help sell the prized Japanese pitcher to sign Chicago.
"[Our pitch] to him is that we're a club on the [upswing]," Renteria said. "We're a club that has a lot of talent [in the minor leagues] besides the guys that we have here [at the major league level]. The organization has quality players coming up that's going to significantly impact the organization."
The right-hander went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in the Japanese League last season and is considered by many a top-of-the-rotation starter. The team that signs Tanaka, 25, will owe a $20 million posting fee to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, whom he played for in Japan.
Renteria, Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer met with Tanaka and his camp, who face a deadline of 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 24 to have a contract and physical completed with a team.
Fox Sports reported Thursday that the Cubs are "pushing hard" for Tanaka, according to a source.
"Obviously we've had conversations with Tanaka," Renteria said. "I'm not sure exactly where we are in that process. We were there, we had conversations, very good conversations, obviously through translators.
"I actually ordered Rosetta Stone [a computer-assisted language learning program], the Japanese version. I'm going to be prepared [if Tanaka does come here]. I'm going to try to learn a little Japanese, and if [he signs], good for us."
The Cubs have plenty of competition for Tanaka. One official estimated that more than one-third of major league teams are interested in the pitcher, who likely will garner a contract in the six-year, $100 million range. Among the interested teams are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros.
Tanaka met with White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams, general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura in the Los Angeles area on Jan. 9.
ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers contributed to this report.