Masahiro Tanaka's workload is a serious concern, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan writes. In the past five seasons, while pitching mostly in his early 20s, Tanaka has averaged more than 113 pitches per start, more than any pitcher in the U.S. big leagues during that period. MLB executives adore Tanaka's stuff (and, presumably, the results he's gotten in Japan), however, so they ignore warning signs about his pitch count. Those pitch counts don't mean it's certain that Tanaka will fall apart once he signs a big contract, of course -- Passan points out that Yu Darvish also had an intense workload in Japan, and he's done just fine in the states. Here's more on Tanaka and the Yankees.
- The Yankees' offseason has been characterized by a need to wait for Alex Rodriguez and for Tanaka, writes NJ.com's Brendan Kuty. A decision on the status of Rodriguez's appeal could soon arrive, and once the Yankees know, they'll have a much clearer idea of their 2014 budget. That, in turn, will help clarify their pursuit of Tanaka.
- If the Yankees sign Tanaka, they'll go past the $189MM luxury-tax threshold regardless of what happens with Rodriguez, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. In the previous two offseasons, the Yankees "operated as if they were in luxury-tax jail," passing even on the relatively inexpensive Russell Martin and avoiding big-ticket players like Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton. Now, after missing the playoffs with an injury-riddled roster in 2013, the Yankees appear prepared to exceed the $189MM threshold. They need Tanaka "desperately," given their current rotation.
- MLB teams' pursuit of Tanaka will be "insane," writes FanGraphs' Tony Blengino. Not only is Tanaka an excellent pitcher, he's only 25, which means he could be a better investment than most free agents, who are older. Also, unlike other Japanese talents, he's essentially a free agent. He doesn't have to deal with the posting system from previous years, in which Japanese teams, rather the players, reaped the benefits of the free market. Finally, teams have plenty of money to spend.