MLB is concerned about "back-channeling" when Japanese players are posted, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. That would be a situation in which an MLB team and a Japanese team circumvent the $20MM posting fee limit by agreeing to pay a significant amount of money on a lesser player posted later. "A club could guarantee to pay $20 million for the next guy — or the next two guys, for that matter," says a big-league executive. MLB is also concerned about Masahiro Tanaka (or any other player) donating to his old team, although Rosenthal notes that doing so would be inefficient, in that the player would be taxed for his income, and then the team would also be taxed on the donation. Here's more on Tanaka.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden compares Tanaka to prime Dan Haren, noting his command and great split-finger fastball (via Twitter).
- The Dodgers, who have plenty of money and have had a relatively quiet offseason, appear to be the favorites to land Tanaka, SB Nation's Grant Brisbee writes. The Yankees need him more, however. Brisbee also points out that the Astros could (not will, but could) be an interesting dark-horse candidate to sign Tanaka, given that they have few large payroll commitments. They would therefore be better-equipped to compete against a team like the Dodgers than some rich teams would. The Mariners' lack of big payroll commitments is how they ended up with Robinson Cano, Brisbee suggests. Tanaka's talent would obviously be appealing to the Astros, and so would his youth.