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What do the Cubs do now that Tanaka went to the Yankees?

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The word is out. Masahiro Tanaka has joined the Yankees. According to various sources, the three teams Tanaka seriously considered were the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Yankees. As expected, Cubs fans’ high hopes have once again been crushed, with one fan saying “first Girardi now Tanaka, always the bridesmaid.”

While the Cubs seem to have really made a play for the highly touted pitcher, it appears they started with two strikes against them. First strike? Theo Epstein has a rule that he will not give no-trade clauses in contracts. The Yankees offered Tanaka a full no trade clause and an out after four years that lets him walk away if he wants. The second strike? The Yankees already have a number of Japanese players on their roster, think Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda. For Tanaka, and his wife, there’s a comfort level there.

So, if the Cubs were really in the running for the pitcher, that means they have some money to spend now. They sure didn’t spend any in the off season so far. Where is the best place to put that money? Do you sign Jeff Samardzija? Do you trade him? What free agents are out there?

While fans hoped to have Tanaka on the Cubs, some now say perhaps not getting the winning bid was better for the team.

“This is a blessing for Cubs fans. It is time to work to build the high minors and big league club and forget short cuts. This team needs good pitching. Spending $130 million on one arm makes no sense at this time. It’s time to sign the Shark to a 3- to 5-year deal. His upside is way too high to let him go,” said Scott Cipinko.

Cipinko’s take on the money available appears to be in line with many reports that claim the Cubs offered somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million to Tanaka.

“I can't fault the Cubs for not getting Tanaka at that price. As much as I'd like to have seen him in a Cub uni (pick one, apparently, from John H's earlier note) - that price, with that opt-out... not much opportunity for upside and plenty for downside,” said Thaine Lyman.

So where does that leave the Cubs? Perhaps with $150 million to spend on hope for this year. There are fee agents still available.

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