Masahiro Tanaka Links: Thursday

After the Rakuten Golden Eagles made the long-awaited decision to post ace Masahiro Tanaka, the posting period opened this morning. Any team that is willing to pay his former club a posting fee of $20MM will have the right to negotiate with Tanaka over the next 30 days (a full refresher on the new rules can be found here). Tanaka's posting period comes to a close on Jan. 24 at 4pm CT, meaning that there could be as many as 700 more hours of drama, rumors and speculation regarding his ultimate destination. Here are today's Tanaka-centric links…

  • MLB.com's Richard Justice writes that teams see Tanaka not as a seven-year deal but rather as an investment to make an immediate impact that could yield a spot in the 2014 playoff picture. The Yankees would like to make an offer to close the bidding process before it truly begins, writes Justice, but several other teams likely feel the same.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that while Tanaka's new agent, Casey Close, does not have Scott Boras' public reputation of bargaining hard, he does have that reputation within the industry. Close is no stranger to large deals, as he represents Derek Jeter and Zack Greinke among others.
  • Sherman also runs down a list of eight teams that he feels to be the Yankees' most serious competition for Tanaka: the Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox, Phillies, Rangers, Cubs, Diamondbacks and Mariners.
  • In a piece for FOX Sports, Gabe Kapler writes that he spoke to one Major League GM who thought Tanaka would sign for something in the six-year, $105MM neighborhood (not including the posting fee). Kapler feels that Tanaka's age and the potential bidding war will up the price to something in the range of seven years and $125MM (plus the $20MM posting fee). He also cautions that Tanaka is far from a sure thing and will need to display impeccable command of his fastball or add some movement to it in order to flourish in the Majors.
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post can't imagine Tanaka signing for anything less than $100MM (Sulia link).
  • The next 30 days will tell us if the Dodgers are hitting their spending limit — self-imposed or otherwise — or if their lack of big spending thus far in the offseason has merely been as a result of waiting for Tanaka, writes Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. Hernandez notes that the team already has five players under control through 2017 and would like that number to rise to seven with extensions to Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez.


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267 Comments on "Masahiro Tanaka Links: Thursday"


phillies1102
1 year 8 months ago

If the Eagles president decided to post Tanaka one week later than yesterday, then the rumor mill would have been completely silent till then. There is not one other story buzzing around.

Robert Mango
1 year 8 months ago

So if the yankees offer up 7/120 at first, u think that would be enough to start to knock out some of the competition?

Ryan J
1 year 8 months ago

Probably enough to knock out several teams. I would guess that at that point there would be around 3-4 teams still in on him. My guess: Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox

Shawn Bronald
1 year 8 months ago

From my understanding, the D’Backs are going all in and have the cash to do it. I’d add them to your list.

JasonPen
1 year 8 months ago

I’d put my money on the Cubs to land him. Their payroll is pretty much non existent compared to where it has been. And they are stockpiling young talent at every level in the minors. 4 of the games top prospects will be up either next year or 2015. All they need is top of the rotation pitching to be contenders. Enter Tanaka.

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

The Cubs are seriously bad. Only the historical badness of the Astros and Marlins are keeping them from being the worst team in baseball. Yes they have a nice farm, but only half of those guys are going to pan out and they’re all position players. They’ve got a LONG way to go. Tanaka wont’ even begin to do it for them.

JasonPen
1 year 8 months ago

They are doing it right. You can’t get better and compete at the same time. Drafting for 3 or 4 years in the top 5 picks is how you start to get better. Then you also buy low on former top prospects, hoping a few of them pan out. Finally you stockpile young international Free Agents. We saw the Cubs spend huge amounts the last few years on the international side. Because of the new CBA, it limits what large market teams (like the Cubs) can do during the first year player draft.

The Cubs will be in all the way on Tanaka, not because he is their missing piece, but because this is part of their plan. Tanaka’s talent and age fit the mold of what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been doing since they took the reigns. Tanaka, along with Bryant, Soler, Baez, Almora, Edwards, Alcantara, Vogelbach, and Vizcaino, will all contribute with the guys they already have at the MLB level.

John Donovan
1 year 8 months ago

They aren’t doing it “right,” they are doing it in the small market way like the A’s, Rays, and Twins (0 World Series titles between them). The Cubs are a large market team and should be rebuilding on the fly like the Red Sox and Dodgers. I’m not saying lose the farm completely. I’m saying when you have the payroll flexibility of the Cubs, the farm should not be the main source of rebuilding.

And BTW, the Cubs will be lucky if 50% of those names you mentioned are worth anything more than a cup of coffee. Most prospects fail, that’s a fact.

JasonPen
1 year 8 months ago

I guess you missed the part about collecting top 5 picks…
They will spend once the core is in place. That’s how you win consistently long term. They tried it the other way for 100 years with no success. The Dodgers havent won anything. The Red Sox and Yankees didnt buy their championships as much as people have you believe. They bought and built around a solid core.

Collecting a ton of young, top shelf, talent IS the way to go.

scott brecht
1 year 8 months ago

If they can get him, expect the Cubs to get much more aggressive in the next two years. They have young talent to bring up or trade and a TON of money to spend. They are just sitting back waiting for the right time to strike right now.

Teufelshunde4
1 year 8 months ago

If Cubs hope to compete by 2015 then Tanaka is a must have. While Cubs have a really nice farm system it is seriously lacking in pitching.

GRINGOMHT
1 year 8 months ago

The only thing thing is Tanaka willing to go to a team that will never be a contender…he certainly will help but not be the answer. Especially a team that thinks shark is an ace

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

I would put serious money against the Dbacks having the cash to compete at that $$ level. Whatever they have left to spend is what they have. Yanks and Cubs can just beat it if they’re determined, and they are.

Pingston
1 year 8 months ago

And I’ll add the Toronto Blue Jays. Their corporate owner, Rogers Communications, is the wealthiest of all MLB owners (and that says a lot) and the number one team need is a starting pitcher. The Jays front office has been very quiet lately on specific plans, which is typical for them. They’ve also been quiet on big signings, so the vault remains full. They typically have a five-year limit for contracts but have hinted there may be some flexibility. The Blue Jays front office scouted Tanaka in Japan and if they’re in, I expect them to be in big time. Five to seven years at $25 million wouldn’t faze their bottom line, so I doubt there’s anything the Yankees could do to scare them off. As in any auction, it will be interesting to see which bidders drop out and where. There’s a book to be written; let’s hope someone’s writing it…

Jorden
1 year 8 months ago

7/120 would likely get signed tonight.

rikersbeard
1 year 8 months ago

Not sure, that is enough aav for the term. He could likely get 115-120/6 years and then hit the market again at 31-32 years of age and cash in again.

If I am Tanaka and I really believe in my ability, then I am looking for a 5 year deal with the maximum amount of aav (ex. 100-110). I make bank and then cash in again at the age of 30 after salaries have inflated for five years.

Gnotorious
1 year 8 months ago

Most of the big bats have signed. Tanaka and the Eagles have pretty much held the pitching market hostage. Things will pick up over the next couple weeks and we will see Garza, Santana and Jimenez sign plus the market for Price & Shark will heat up heading into February.

Randy Wiseman
1 year 8 months ago

i hope somebody gets burned on this guy need a good laugh

Gnotorious
1 year 8 months ago

Seattle and Cano wasn’t enough?

Dale Pearl
1 year 8 months ago

Cano was overpaid true enough, but at least Cano has a proven major league record. Tanaka is pure speculation. Many scouting reports from Major League scouts question his arm strength.

Teufelshunde4
1 year 8 months ago

With the splitter that Tanaka has arm strength isnt a priority.

Dale Pearl
1 year 8 months ago

that kind of narrows who is going to go after him then as well: The Angels, the Twins, the Giants, the Reds, the Padres and the Rays are among the many major league teams that discourage their pitchers from developing a splitter, citing health reasons as well as the belief that throwing it too much can reduce the velocity of a pitcher’s fastball.

Mysterious Two Hole Steve
1 year 8 months ago

My thoughts exactly…. This has bust written all over it. IMO of course. He might end up a Cy Young winner…

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
1 year 8 months ago

Got all the bases covered yet?

EarlyMorningBoxscore
1 year 8 months ago

I am not sure why you would want a team to get burned. Unless, it is because the team you are a fan of has no shot at him. Tanaka succeeding makes the MLB product better, and more fun for fans to watch. Why root against that?

1 year 8 months ago

I want the Angels and the Yankees to get burned. Big money should never be handed out to unproven talent.

Joe A
1 year 8 months ago

Yankees kind of have a thing of picking up random guys that are past their prime but are able to squeeze a year or two of actual good baseball out of them…

Yuck, can’t believe I said something positive about them Yanks lol

1 year 8 months ago

They do. Being a Red Sox fan who lives 45 mins from Yankee Stadium has supplied me with some good baseball and mixed emotions.

rikersbeard
1 year 8 months ago

Why? Is it better to hand it out to aging/declining players?

1 year 8 months ago

No, but there’s a reason that draft spending just got capped. Unproven players are risky. There’s literally no guarantee how he’ll handle the transition.

rikersbeard
1 year 8 months ago

The reason it capped is that owners didn’t want to pay and the players union was willing to give in that area in order to get elsewhere (which is not surprising considering it didn’t affect any of the current members of the union).

1 year 8 months ago

The NFL did it too. Guaranteeing massive amounts to unproven talent isn’t a good idea. I’m not saying paying old guys a ton of money is better, but that doesn’t change the risk factor in handing out an 9 figure deal to a guy who’s never pitched in the majors.

bdiddy7
1 year 8 months ago

Sox did to Matsuzaka. How’d you feel then?

Personally, when the Yanks foolishly went after Igawa, I hated the move because I saw him nothing more than a 4th/5th starter at best. It was a knee-jerk reaction after the Sox landed Matsuzaka. At least Tanaka has talent and upside.

1 year 8 months ago

The Red Sox got burned by him no doubt. He decided to play hurt in the 2009 WBC and never recovered. His 08 season was very fun to watch. I’ll remember Dice K fondly for some things and I’ll shake my head at others.

bdiddy7
1 year 8 months ago

As a Sox fan, I bet that season was fun to watch because he escaped many jams that year. His ERA and record(18-3) certainly didn’t match his peripherals.

1 year 8 months ago

It was a lot of fun. He’d walk the bases loaded and then strike out the side. Nerve wracking but certainly exciting.

Collateral96
1 year 8 months ago

Well that’s the only positive year the rest well I don’t think the redsox want to remember the awful seasons following. This guys walk totals went through the roof.

1 year 8 months ago

After that he showed up out of shape for Spring Training and got himself injured during the 2009 WBC and decided to hide it from everyone. His behavior surrounding all that was atrocious.

Collateral96
1 year 8 months ago

he’d throw a 150 pitches in about 5 innings than he’d be finished

1 year 8 months ago

He also criticized the Sox handling of his rehab.

bdiddy7
1 year 8 months ago

After that year he was hurt throughout his tenure with the Sox–every year he missed time, IIRC.

Pingston
1 year 8 months ago

I’d say Tanaka has proven a lot in Japan. And Darvish showed that what happens in Japan doesn’t necessarily stay in Japan. I expect Tanaka to be a solid 2 or 3 starter and a good investment for whomever.

1 year 8 months ago

So 100+ million for a number 3 is a good investment?

Darvish had a great year last year and there are several Japanese players who have made the switch and have played great baseball. There’s a bunch who haven’t though. None have required a 9 figure risk taking the posting fee out of the equation.

Pingston
1 year 8 months ago

He might be a #1 on some teams.

How many baseball players are good investments?

Teams are businesses. If profitable, why try to win? Just preach parity. But if you’re trying to win, take risks. And show your fan base you tried. It’s why i believe Cespedes, Puig and Chapman should have been bid up higher.

But Tanaka is 25 and has an unmatched record of wins in 2013. But it’s not about the Japanese league. It’s about his stuff. Scouts and execs have taken a look. We’ll know soon what they saw. For a rich team he’s a freebie (not wasting a draft pick or prospects). For a rich team that owns its own TV, it’s more than a freebie. At least 2 of the prospective bidders fill that bill: the Yankees with YES and the Blue Jays with Rogers Sportsnet (dozens of cable sports channels, local TV and radio). Plus, adding a Tanaka, and then maybe Jimenez, will sell somebody a bunch of season’s tickets.

Is it a gamble, a calculated risk or a hedged bet? The teams have had experienced eyes on him. What they do will answer some questions. If I were the Yankees or Blue Jays I would bid higher than all the rest.

JasonPen
1 year 8 months ago

Because bidding for an international talent and spending 150mil on a guy who has zero MLB experience is bad for the game in it’s own right.

Vmmercan
1 year 8 months ago

How so?

JasonPen
1 year 8 months ago

They should have to enter the pool with every other player and get drafted. Otherwise these large market teams not only get the best Free Agents, now they get the best international players too.
The MLB needs an international first year player draft. At least for these players like Darvish, Tanaka, Cespedes, Soler, and Chapman, who are all young. Otherwise, the league won’t ever have parody and the rich get richer and the worst teams never get better.

Vmmercan
1 year 8 months ago

That’s a very ethnocentric view though. Tanaka is an international superstar. He has put in his time as a professional athlete and you’re looking to treat him as a college player because the Padres MIGHT be able to sign him. No international team is going to post their player, now for a max of $20 million and then have the player also get screwed by not choosing their team or salary.

Small market teams usually sit in a superior situation in the domestic draft. I might be able to see a defected Cuban player being entered into a sort of international draft, but not a Japanese one. And at that point, it’s just silly to penalize players who risk their life to come here as opposed to established international talent. Not to mention, not all small market teams are created equally. Quite frankly, the Marlins shouldn’t have an advantage to signing top quality talent on the cheap because they are worse for baseball than any big market spender.

Vmmercan
1 year 8 months ago

And teams like the Yankees already have to give small market teams a large pay check which is SUPPOSED to be added into the roster and rarely is, plus they have to overpay athletes because of enormous taxes in NY to begin with. Not asking for sympathy for the Yankees by any means, but simply looking at things dollar for dollar big to small market and all things created equal is not accurate.

rikersbeard
1 year 8 months ago

Not sure how I see how it is bad for the game, but I definitely see how it is bad for the player. Pretty sure 25-30 year olds deserve to pick where they want to live after having already gone through a draft in their original league.

Also, not sure it is just the rich teams that get the players. Look at your examples (Chapman – CIN; Cespedes – OAK; Darvish – TEX). Those aren’t exactly your Cubs, Yanks, Sox, Dogers.

bdiddy7
1 year 8 months ago

Then there wouldn’t be as much of an incentive to come to MLB. Their signing bonuses would be capped and they’d be under team control for years.

JasonPen
1 year 8 months ago

The incentive would be to play with the best in the world. A draft doesn’t stop foreign players from coming to the NBA…

bdiddy7
1 year 8 months ago

Those foreign players are entering the NBA draft at the ages that their contemporaries in the States are getting drafted. Not to mention that a high number of them continue to stay in Europe.

If Japanese players stayed with their teams in Japan until their contracts ran out, they’d be 26-28 years-old. Of course, without the posting system, there’d be absolutely no incentive for the Japanese teams to release the players from their contracts in order to enter the “international draft”.

sloppybones
1 year 8 months ago

Didn’t the 3rd or 4th lowest payroll team in baseball sign Cespedes?

JasonPen
1 year 8 months ago

Well, he didn’t get the kind of money that Darvish and Tanaka will get. If I remember right, he didnt come with all of the hype either. Basically, in this system, if a big market team wants a player, the smaller teams have ZERO chance. Period.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Cubs fan, I like some advantages to big market clubs, but I’m also a fan of the game. Parody makes the game great.

Pingston
1 year 8 months ago

Some say the Cubs have been a parody of a baseball team for too many years. Parity does not “make the game great”. Teams make choices, they carefully build their squads. The biggest spender is not necessarily the biggest winner.

sloppybones
1 year 8 months ago

Didn’t the 3rd or 4th lowest payroll team in baseball sign Cespedes?

Pingston
1 year 8 months ago

There will never be parity (parody, however, is quite common)… There will always be players who under and over achieve, scouts who get it wrong one way or the other, fans who don’t turn out and cost their teams, other teams whose fans turn out when they shouldn’t and thus give their team extra resources. Wealthy teams over-pay and cost themselves future spending opportunities. Some teams are run smarter or get lucky. It’s not all about money. Trying to micro-manage parity is a huge exercise in failure. The best example is government.

Eric Foley
1 year 8 months ago

As long as it’s not the Red Sox!

Chuckthaniel
1 year 8 months ago

Does Tanaka have to wait until the posting period ends on Jan. 24 to sign/announce the contract, or can he sign with a team at any time during the posting period? Obviously, it’s probably in his best interest to wait and let the bidding go up, but I’m just curious.

Gnotorious
1 year 8 months ago

He can sign at any time during the posting period with any team that post the $20 million bid.

rikersbeard
1 year 8 months ago

Is that right? That would be surprising to me.

Scott
1 year 8 months ago

There is no bidding period. He is now a free agent and can sign with any team over the next 30 days. The signing team then owes Rakuten the posting fee.

raymondrobertkoenig
1 year 8 months ago

Agree that Tanaka should get less than 20 million a season.

UltimateYankeeFan
1 year 8 months ago

All those points seem reasonable. I would only question the teams the author seems to think pose the greatest risk to the Yankees, I can see the Dodgers, Cubs and Angels. the others including the Red Sox I see on the outside looking in. The Red Sox have a pretty good stable of starters as it is. I just don’t see them going all in at this point. The Rangers, Mariners and Phillies according to reports on this very site would need to unload some payroll to fit Tanaka in. The Diamondbacks are a long shot in my opinion. But we’ll see

Seamaholic
1 year 8 months ago

If you’re looking for a long-shot mystery team, watch out for the Phillies.

UltimateYankeeFan
1 year 8 months ago

Just don’t see it without them unloading a bunch f salary first. Baseball-Reference has them projected for just their 25 man roster at $160MM (without Tanaka). Add in the balance of their 40 man roster and about $11MM MLB charges all teams for benefits for tax purposes and they are at $$175MM (without Tanaka). And their 2015 and 2016 commitments aren’t any better,

not_brooks
1 year 8 months ago

I’ll admit that I didn’t know anything about Tanaka aside from his stats prior to reading Kapler’s article.

Interesting that his fastball is supposedly flat. I wonder if he’ll be able to make the jump to the show. If not, this could be one disastrous contract. Maybe the one that finally knocks the Yankees on their [bottoms] for a season or two.

Kayrall
1 year 8 months ago

The A-Rod contract was supposed to be that Yankee-killer contract, but Mr. Selig is helping his golden team get out from under that.

Since_77
1 year 8 months ago

Thanks Bud!

Edictor27
1 year 8 months ago

I don’t know what Tanaka’s other pitches are, but I assume if he can utilize his other pitches to get hitter out he probably wont need to rely on is fastball much

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

Basically everybody needs a decent fastball to get by in the majors for very long.

Austin Gatman
1 year 8 months ago

We do realize that darvish throws all off-speed stuff right

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call 42.6% fastballs “all off-speed stuff.”

Austin Gatman
1 year 8 months ago

CountLeague Average: Fastballs
3-0……94%
3-1……84%
2-0……81%
3-2……70%
2-1……69%
1-0……69%
0-0……69%
1-1……58%
0-1……57%
2-2……56%
0-2……54%
1-2……51%

Nothing even in the 40’s

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

League average for starters is ~56%, so yes, Darvish throws fewer fastballs, but he still throws them nearly half the time, and if he didn’t have an at least halfway decent one people would just sit on it and forget about all of his off-speed stuff.

Austin Gatman
1 year 8 months ago

42% is not nearly half…Also, whats the difference between a “decent fastball” and a “halfway decent fastball”…..all im saying is a pitcher who was second in the cy young voting last year is well below the league average for fastballs % which proves if you have great off-speed pitches then you dont need a good fastball

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

No, it doesn’t even come close to proving that. Darvish has a decent fastball; it’s not a good fastball, so he doesn’t throw it a lot, but it’s still his most used pitch by far (twice as often as his next most common pitch), and if it wasn’t any good he would have a very hard time succeeding.

I’m not saying Tanaka’s fastball isn’t good enough – there’s no way of knowing if it is or not at this point – but I know there are concerns about it, and if it’s bad enough it’s not going to matter how good his other pitches are because even a guy like Darvish has to throw his fastball pretty often, and if it’s bad enough guys will just wait for it.

Austin Gatman
1 year 8 months ago

Okay I agree for the most part people need a fastball but people have had success without one

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

People have success without a good fastball, but I don’t think anyone can have success without a major league caliber fastball; fastballs aren’t like other pitches where you can just not throw one if yours isn’t good enough.

Austin Gatman
1 year 8 months ago

I know im digging deep here but the big name i think of is wakefield…. a low 70’s fastball in not major league caliber. Also if you consider a sinker a “fastball” then he will be fine because what ive heard is he has a great sinker

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

Knuckleballers don’t follow the same rules as conventional pitchers for pretty obvious reasons.

Kayrall
1 year 8 months ago

Simpson’s Paradox?

Austin Gatman
1 year 8 months ago

CountLeague Average: Fastballs
3-0……94%
3-1……84%
2-0……81%
3-2……70%
2-1……69%
1-0……69%
0-0……69%
1-1……58%
0-1……57%
2-2……56%
0-2……54%
1-2……51%

Nothing even in the 40’s

Pingston
1 year 8 months ago

I think you misunderstand his grammar. He says Darvish throws all the off-speed pitches, not that he throws them all the time. Indeed, the off-speed stuff makes the fastball harder to hit. Tanaka offers great accuracy, and his unbeaten record speaks volumes about consistency.

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

No, if you read the rest of the conversation it’s pretty clear that that’s not what he was saying. Plus, “darvish throws all off-speed stuff” is pretty straight forward.

Pingston
1 year 8 months ago

When he says “darvish throws all off-speed stuff” I take it to mean that he can throw all off-speed pitches, not that every pitch he throws is off-speed. Why my interpretation? because I’ve watched Darvish pitch and know he throws fastballs. So, then, presumably would ‘gatman’.

You may be correct. However, I did read all the rest at the time and to me it wasn’t clear. Too many people don’t ensure they are explicit in their communications. But it’s still hard to imagine someone claiming Darvish throws no fastballs when in the rest of his comments he fluidly discussed the 42.6% fastball rate.

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

Well, for one, you can take it to mean whatever you want I suppose, but he explicitly said he throws all off-speed stuff, which can really only mean one thing. And anyway, he doesn’t throw all of the off-speed pitches, so even if you want to assume he was being literal, your interpretation wouldn’t work either.

And two, the whole conversation was clearly about the amount of fastballs he throws, and the rate at which he throws them; at no point did he even actually talk about how many different off-speed pitches he throws.

MaineSox
1 year 8 months ago

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call 42.6% fastballs “all off-speed stuff.”

Austin Gatman
1 year 8 months ago

We do realize that darvish throws all off-speed stuff right

Jorden
1 year 8 months ago

One thing is for sure. Someone is going to have to over pay to secure this guy.

RC23
1 year 8 months ago

I think he ends up in pinstripes but not without a lot of $$$. 7/125 seems like a good prediction.

Jorden
1 year 8 months ago

I see the Yankees and Dodgers pushing hard, but Angels gonna Angels and over pay by $20M.

Dale Pearl
1 year 8 months ago

I see a 10 year and 200 million contract winning the deal.

MB923
1 year 8 months ago

No way he gets that amount of $ or years

rikersbeard
1 year 8 months ago

Would he even want that many years?

GrilledCheese39
1 year 8 months ago

Yankees sign him, and go on a spending spree after they pass 189 MM

Harrisonc27
1 year 8 months ago

I see them giving him a Choo deal 7yr/ 140 million and that should close the deal

Joe A
1 year 8 months ago

Didn’t close the deal for Choo. He settled for less…

Harrisonc27
1 year 8 months ago

I know they didn’t close it I meant that type of deal