If you've been reading for the past 3 years, you know I don't really go gaga about every free agent. For me to talk about major free agents I need to believe that A) the Cubs can sign him and B) the Cubs want to sign him.
That hasn't happened very often.
I didn't talk about the possibility of signing Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, or even Michael Bourn because I didn't think the Cubs had the desire to sign them. I didn't get too excited about Yu Darvish because I didn't think the Cubs could sign him. Texas had a bead on him from day one and they weren't about to lose him. They lapped the rest of the field when it came to the posting bid.
I was, however, optimistic about Jorge Soler and Hyun-Jin Ryu. They fit the timeline and the Cubs were in on them from day one. The Cubs got Soler and just missed on Ryu. Of all the major free agents the Cubs have missed out on, the only ones that were disappointing for me were Ryu and Anibal Sanchez.
Since early September, I have felt the same about Masahiro Tanaka, both in terms of optimism and the potential genuine disappointment if they don't land him. I haven't heard anything since then that has caused me to change my mind on that.
Now Luke Stuckmeyer is saying the Cubs are going to meet with him,
I believe the Cubs don't want this to turn into a bidding war so it's not surprising to me that they'd downplay their interest in the press, but it also wouldn't surprise me if they make an aggressive play for Tanaka from day one -- a full court press to try and sell him on the plan, the city, and the organization. We also know that they'll have done their homework on what motivates Tanaka from a personal standpoint.
And maybe, as they did with Curt Schilling, they can appeal to Masahiro's ego. If you want to surpass the legend of Ichiro, Hideo, Hideki, and Yu there is no better way to do it than to be a part of the team that ends the World Series drought at Wrigley. He can carve his own place in history right here in Chicago.
In the end, however, this is going to come down to money and this is the part that gives Cubs fans pause.
Do they have the money to spend?
I believe they do, though I do think they'll have to be creative. I believe the talk about the finances and the concerns about revenue are at least in some part, a little sleight of hand. While everyone is paying attention to the rebuilding, the renovation saga, the Yankees, Dodgers, and the Mariners, the Cubs could pull a rabbit out of their hat on this one.
One way or the other, we'll find out in the next couple of weeks or so. And for one of the few times since the Cubs started rebuilding, I'm actually excited about the possibility that the Cubs just might land the big fish.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not some kind of naive, wide eyed optimist, I realize there are tremendous challenges involved. There is some serious, highly motivated, highly financed competition and there is a good chance that it won't happen no matter how aggressive, creative, and prepared the Cubs are in their pursuit.
But that doesn't mean that I won't be disappointed if the Cubs lose this particular derby.