Finally, after weeks of will they/won't they, Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana announced late last night that Masahiro Tanaka will be allowed to make the jump to MLB, giving clubs the best Christmas gift they could have hoped for. Now, the question is, where will Tanaka land? The latest on the Japanese sensation..
- According to people with knowledge of the Yankees' thinking, Tanaka has long been an attractive target, especially with a rotation that could use an impact arm, writes Marc Carig of Newsday. With the retirement of Andy Pettitte, the Yankees are left with just three established starters in CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova. The Cubs, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers are also among the clubs expected to make strong plays for Tanaka.
- According to NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, Rakuten team president Yozo Tachibana acknowledged his reservations about the new posting system but said the team did not want to hold back a star player from a challenge he wishes to embrace, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The new posting system, of course, means that the Golden Eagles can't take in more than the maximum $20MM posting fee. The 25-year-old is coming off a year in which he went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in the Japanese Pacific League.
- The starting pitching market has been largely held up due to clubs waiting on a resolution to the Tanaka situation and we should see some serious movement once he signs with an MLB club, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
- "I'm grateful to the team for allowing me to try. Now I've made a first step," Tanaka said, according to the Associated Press. "I hope I would receive offers from as many teams as possible so I have a wider option."
- For the Yankees to land Tanaka, they'll have to barrel past the $189MM luxury tax threshold, writes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. Either way, they probably can't reach that goal without a full-season suspension for Alex Rodriguez and they hope to know where they stand with that in early January.
- “[Nippon Professional Baseball] is becoming a feeder system for the M.L.B.,” Robert Whiting, who has written several books on Japanese baseball, told Ken Belson of the New York Times. “Japanese pro baseball has all but disappeared from prime time network television.”