Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka may be the next Japanese pitcher to turn a strong World Baseball Classic performance into a nine-figure Major League contract, ESPN's C.J. Nitkowski writes (Insider subscription required). Tanaka, 24, has a 2.50 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and 4.34 K/BB ratio in 1103 IP over six seasons with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka has expressed interest in pitching in North America and is three years away from international free agency, though Rakuten could open the posting process before then.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- The Padres are starting to listen to offers for Chase Headley, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports. The Padres tabled extension talks with Headley earlier this winter after the two sides were far apart on terms. The third baseman is under contract through the 2014 season and Madden argues that the Yankees should make a move for a young star like Headley or Giancarlo Stanton in order to bolster the lineup and ensure the team will contend this year.
- "The fact is, this is the right time to trade Stanton. He’s never going to have more value than this," a Marlins operative tells Madden, arguing that such an unpopular move can't hurt a team that is already at rock bottom in terms of public perception. “I understand Jeffrey [Loria]’s getting killed in Miami over blowing up the team this winter and why he doesn’t want to trade Stanton. But how much more can we get killed? He’s already had some injury issues, and we’re never going to sign him to a long-term deal," Madden's source said.
- Carl Crawford criticized the Boston media and told CBS Sports' Danny Knobler that he erred in signing with the Red Sox in the 2010-11 offseason. "It just wasn't the right place for me at the end of my day. I didn't do my homework. Maybe they didn't, either," Crawford said.
- If the Tigers do acquire a reliever, MLB.com's Jason Beck believes such a deal isn't likely until nearer to the end of Spring Training when other teams have their own bullpen situations settled.
- Chone Figgins feels a lack of playing time exacerbated his struggles with the Mariners and is looking forward to seeing more action playing under NL rules with the Marlins, The Associated Press reports.
- Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster have both looked good in Spring Training and the Red Sox could reap more than financial benefits from last summer's trade with the Dodgers if these two young pitchers develop, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Tomase also talks to Rays manager Joe Maddon about how the Rays were targeting De La Rosa before L.A. dealt him to Boston.