Masahiro Tanaka Rumors: Thursday

With the courting of Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka now firmly underway, here is the latest on the top remaining free agent (in the estimation of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes):

  • Tanaka is in Los Angeles not only to meet with clubs, but to undergo a physical, reports Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. Tanaka will have his physical on Thursday and release the results to interested clubs. With a sizeable workload already under Tanaka's belt at age 25, says Dilbeck, agent Casey Close may be looking to get out in front of any health concerns.
  • After Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said yesterday that discussions were in the "feeling-out" stage, president Stan Kasten further discussed the team's interest in Tanaka today in an interview with Mark Willard and Ben Lyons of ESPNLA 710, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com"You can be assured we'll investigate everything and, if there's a way that it made sense, I'm sure we would consider it," said Kasten. "But I wouldn't predict it, I wouldn't hang our hat on it, because I think the team we have right now in place is ready to go to spring training, ready to start the season and ready to compete and win."
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers also discussed Tanaka from his club's perspective, indicating to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he anticipates a chance to meet with Tanaka and his camp. "They've been good through the process," Towers said in reference to Tanaka and Close. "I'm sure they've dealt with us the same way they've dealt with other clubs." Towers also addressed the issue of whether Arizona could compete with other teams that may have greater financial flexibility. "We don't know if it's about dollars or location or the chance to be competitive," said Towers. "Nobody has really met with him so I don't think any of us have any idea. … If they come out and say it's going to be the club that spends the most money on him, then we're probably not the front-runner. But everything right now is pure speculation by the media." The D-Backs' top baseball man declined to disclose his sales pitch, but did say that his organization has "spent a great deal of time putting together what our plan of attack is and what our selling points are."
  • The White Sox have issued a statement confirming that club representatives met with Tanaka and his camp today, Scott Merkin of MLB.com was among those to report (through a series of Twitter links). GM Rick Hahn was joined by executive VP Ken Williams and manager Robin Ventura for a meeting that was, in Hahn's words, "exploratory in nature."
  • Meanwhile, the Red Sox have been in touch with Close, GM Ben Cherington told WEEI.com in a radio interview today. As WEEI.com's Alex Speier tweets, Cherington said that "we'll see how it plays out" as to whether the club ultimately meets with Tanaka and company.
  • The details of the negotation process could have a major role in where Tanaka ultimately ends up, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explores in a series of tweets. For instance, the Diamondbacks have a scout who played with Tanaka in Japan, while Angels executive Hal Morris played ball with Close in college. While such advantages may be minor, Rosenthal says that clubs are looking for any edge.
  • The precise structure of the deal could also be highly variable, says Rosenthal, and may well include creative contract terms. Rosenthal cites Close's utilization of an opt-out clause in the Zack Greinke deal, and proposal to include a similar clause in a Clayton Kershaw extension. An opt-out clause or even a massive AAV over a shorter term would not be surprising, according to Rosenthal.

Earlier Updates

  • Tanaka arrived in the United States to begin meeting with Major League clubs, tweets David Waldstein of the New York Times. Tanaka was originally planning on flying into Chicago, but an NL official tells Waldstein that weather caused him to fly into Los Angeles instead.
  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Tanaka's camp could meet with as many as a dozen by Friday. According to Heyman, the Dodgers, Cubs, and Yankees (in addition to the above-noted Angels, White Sox, and Diamondbacks) all have meetings set. The Blue Jays have also had multiple conversations with Tanaka's camp already, he adds, but it's unclear if they have a face-to-face meeting set in Los Angeles. Heyman reports that Tanaka began meetings yesterday and could meet with five to six teams per day.
  • We also learned additional details on the payment schedule for the posting fee that will be owed by whatever team ultimately lands Tanaka.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

 



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