Masahiro Tanaka Rumors
Here's a look at the latest news courtesy of the New York Post's Joel Sherman..
- Sherman senses genuine worry from several teams about the way the Rakuten Golden Eagles used Masahiro Tanaka over the last few years. In five postseason starts, Tanaka threw four complete games, including 160 pitches in Game 6 of the championship series. The next day, he threw 15 more pitches to get the save in the clinching game. An executive from an interested club said that he still expects significant bidding on Tanaka, but says that the pitcher will have to get through "the most thorough physical ever" to get a deal completed.
- The Reds haven't showed their hand one way or another, but one team official believes that the ship has sailed on convincing Aroldis Chapman to pitch as a starter and the time to do it would have been last year. With Bronson Arroyo likely going elsewhere, the Reds may have to think about finding an out-of-house replacement if Chapman won't join the rotation. It's also possible that they could choose to stand pat and roll with a starting five of Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Tony Cingrani.
- Don't count the Reds out in the bidding for Shin-Soo Choo, even though the price tag could exceed $100MM. Cincinnati believes Billy Hamilton is ready to handle center field defensively, but they'd prefer he get more time in the minors to further refine his offense. If they re-sign Choo, they can have him handle center field for one more year and maybe transition him to a corner in 2015, opening up a spot for the speedy Hamilton.
Here's the latest from the Giants, courtesy of Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle...
- General manager Brian Sabean says it is "highly doubtful" that the Giants will sign a qualifying offer free agent since the team isn't keen on forfeiting its first round draft pick (14th overall) as compensation. Sabean's thinking "could change up the line," as Schulman believes the Giants might only jump on such a player if teams are scared off by the draft pick price tag and the player can be had for a relatively low price, a la Kyle Lohse last offseason.
- In addition to seeking free agent pitching, the Giants are also exploring the trade market for arms. Schulman doesn't see Max Scherzer as a fit and he says the Giants aren't interested in Jake Peavy. He calls John Lackey "an interesting case" but that could be just because of Lackey's relative bargain contract rather than any specific interest the Giants have in the Boston right-hander.
- The Giants will listen to offers about players in their lineup but aren't interested in trading any since the team doesn't have any young replacements ready to step up.
- One of the few depth positions San Francisco has is at catcher, and Schulman cites the Cubs and Twins are possible trade partners in that regard.
- The Giants won't bid on Masahiro Tanaka if the current posting system is in place, Schulman reports (Sulia link). The Giants are surely paying close attention to the ongoing negotiations between MLB and NPB about a new posting process.
- Javier Lopez tells Schulman that he and the Giants are "continuing the dialog. No rush." Other teams have called Lopez but Schulman suspects the southpaw would give the Giants a chance to match any offer (Twitter links).
Major League Baseball's posting agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball has expired but a reworked version of the system would be announced soon, and perhaps as early as Tuesday (according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post and Newsday's David Lennon via Twitter).
As Davidoff explains in a series of tweets, the new system would still award the highest-bidding Major League team the rights to negotiate with a Japanese player, but the team would only have to pay a posting fee equal to the average of the top two bids. This helps prevent a team from posting a very large bid just to block other teams from getting a player, or guards "against one team going rogue and bidding an insane number," as Davidoff puts it. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) cites a Japanese report which states that a Major League team that wins a posting bid would be fined if they can't reach an agreement with the player.
This plan is meeting some resistance from the Japanese players union, according to a report from the Sponichi network (hat tip to MLBTR's Aaron Steen for the translation). The players are asking for a system in which posted players are allowed to negotiate with several teams. In regards to a team overbidding just to block a rival from getting a player, a spokesperson for the players union said they would "also like to hear from NPB on a penalty fee when negotiations between a player and an MLB team break down." Some NPB teams are in favor of implementing a new system without player approval, while other clubs would just implement the new system temporarily and revisit negotiations in a year's time.
There has been speculation for months that the MLB/NPB posting agreement was going to be overhauled in order to create a fairer system for both leagues and the players themselves. One rumored scenario would've allowed a posted player to choose which of the three highest-bidding teams he'd prefer to negotiate with, giving him some say in the matter of his Major League future.
Another alternative would be to bypass the posting system altogether, which MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom writes is "the sentiment among a growing number of Major League owners." Without the posting process, MLB teams would have to wait until Japanese players reached free agency (like Hideki Matsui or Koji Uehara) after nine NPB seasons, and then they would be free to sign with any team in any country.
The player most directly impacted by possible changes to the posting system is, of course, Masahiro Tanaka. The offseason's top free agent pitcher has drawn interest from many teams, and even if the posting system is altered in favor of averaged bids, big-spending clubs like the Dodgers and Yankees would still seem to have the inside track on Tanaka.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter. Here's a look at some of the highlights..
- Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs. Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year. It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
- Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees. All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers. Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
- Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter. Where will he land? The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
- Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals. Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
- When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza. Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid. One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term. "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
- When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
- Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson. Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner. "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."
Free agent reliever Mark Hendrickson would like to return to the Orioles organization in 2014, but he doesn't know where he'll wind up this winter. "Obviously, I'd love to get his feedback from an organizational standpoint," Hendrickson told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. "I'm very happy with the opportunity they gave me last year. I don't know what's going to happen moving forward. I've got to be open to everything. I obviously have a connection with the Orioles. I love the organization, love where it's been going. But to determine what will happen, it's hard to say sitting here in November - what their thoughts are, how everything unfolds, what's going on." Here's more out of the AL East..
- Attorneys for Major League Baseball accused Alex Rodriguez of “a brazen attempt to circumvent the ongoing arbitration process” in a motion filed Friday to dismiss the Yankees third baseman's lawsuit against MLB and commissioner Bud Selig, write Ken Davidoff and Rich Calder of the New York Post.
- The Yankees announced yesterday that they are bringing back their entire coaching staff. That means that key figures such as pitching coach Larry Rothschild, bench coach Tony Pena, and hitting coach Kevin Long will return for another year in pinstripes.
- The Yanks will face tough competition for players on their free agent wish list this year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports. "[T]his isn’t going to be like 2008 when [GM Brian Cashman] was able to blow everyone out of the water" by committing $423 million to CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, Madden writes. The Yankees are expected to battle with the Tigers, Rangers, Red Sox and Mets for players that include Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Grant Balfour, Jhonny Peralta and Masahiro Tanaka.
- The Orioles are expected to hire Braves special assistant Dom Chiti as their bullpen coach, industry sources tell Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
The Max Scherzer trade rumors don't make much sense to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, who argues that a Tigers club built to win in 2014 can't afford to move an ace pitcher unless another team makes "an incredibly loony price" in a trade. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore hears from a source who flatly denies that Scherzer will be dealt, and Kilgore wonders if the Tigers' alleged willingness to trade may hint at concerns about Scherzer's future performance.
Here are some items about notable arms that could be had via trade or free agency this offseason...
- The Nationals have the minor league depth to acquire the likes of Scherzer or David Price, Kilgore writes. It could be more likely that the Nats pursue a younger pitcher who is under control for more years, a la the team's deal for Gio Gonzalez.
- Shelby Miller is "an under-the-radar potential [trade] target," a baseball official opines to Kilgore. Miller pitched just one postseason inning for the Cardinals due to concerns that he had a tired arm, though Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that were rumors that Miller was really being saved for a possible trade this winter. I'm not sure if I believe that theory; you'd think the Cards would've had all healthy arms on deck in pursuit of a World Series.
- The Cubs are interested in Masahiro Tanaka, GM Jed Hoyer told David Kaplan on WGN Radio's The David Kaplan Show (Twitter link). "He's going to help somebody and we will be in on him," Hoyer said.
- Matt Sosnick, Josh Johnson's agent, says he has talked to "nearly every team" about his client, including the Rangers, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reports. The Rangers appeal to Johnson due to their winning ways because he lives in nearby Oklahoma, though since Sosnick says Johnson would prefer "at least a pitching-neutral ballpark," Rangers Ballpark might be a hindrance.
- The Angels' signing of starter Chris Volstad could spell trouble for starters Jerome Williams and Tommy Hanson, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles TImes. Volstad is cheap and young, and DiGiovanna says that the club may not see much difference between him and the club's pricier, pre-existing options. In his breakdown of the Halos' arbitration-eligible players, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes calls Hanson a definite non-tender candidate, and says Williams could also be shown the door.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden speculates about six possible David Price trades (ESPN Insider subscription required).
MLBTR's Jeff Todd also contributed to this post
The Giants haven't needed to focus on upgrading their rotation in a while but the team is clearly looking to add starting pitching this winter. Here's the latest out of San Francisco...
- The Giants are looking at a long list of starters that includes Tim Hudson, Dan Haren and Bronson Arroyo, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. As many as a dozen pitchers could be on the club's wish list, Schulman says, though it isn't yet clear if the Giants will bid on Masahiro Tanaka (Twitter links). Beyond the Giants, Hudson has drawn interest from seven other teams and is already considering an offer from the Braves.
- The Giants are "well-positioned" to sign Arroyo, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets, though it depends on how the veteran righty's market develops.
- The Giants are thought to prefer short-term deals for starters, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince reports, which would explain their targeting of veteran arms like Haren or Hudson. Since the Giants' rotation already has some solid pieces, Castrovince argues that GM Brian Sabean should focus most of his available resources on an offensive upgrade like Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo.
- Since signing Tanaka wouldn't cost the Giants draft pick compensation like some other top free agent pitchers, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle feels the team should put some of its new TV contract money towards acquiring the Japanese right-hander.
- Barry Meister, Javier Lopez's agent, tells MLB.com's Chris Haft that a "significant number" of teams have contacted him about his client but Meister is "continuing to talk to the Giants." Both Lopez and the Giants share a mutual interest in continuing the southpaw's time in San Francisco though since Meister said he has only had "very preliminary" talks with other teams, the market has yet to fully develop for Lopez's services.
MLBTR's Jeff Todd also contributed to this post
The Yankees are planning to make Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka a "top priority" this winter and are considered the team to beat in bidding for the 25-year-old, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Writes Passan: "If re-signing Robinson Cano is priority No. 1 for the New York Yankees this offseason, securing the rights to Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka is No. 1a."
The Yankess "are going to be bold" in bidding for Tanaka, Passan continues. Previously, Passan has spoken with executives who believe that Tanaka's posting fee could top $75MM, although we still don't quite know how the posting system will work going forward. Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have been working on alterations to the posting process for quite some time, and George A. King III of the New York Post reported earlier today that a resolution could still be several weeks away. Under the previous system, Tanaka could have been posted on Nov. 1.
Passan writes that Yankees officials aren't concerned about previous failures of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa on the big stage in New York, adding that they liken Tanaka's makeup and personality to that of Hideki Matsui.
The Yankees are in the market for two starting pitchers to pair with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova next year, Passan continues, and they're intrigued by Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Dan Haren. The Yankees are not expected to be in the market for Ervin Santana, he adds, as they don't feel that he would fit well in New York. Jimenez and Santana would cost the Yankees a draft pick due to the fact that each is all but certain to reject the qualifying offers received on Monday. Garza and Haren did not receive qualifying offers.
The Yankees figure to have some deep-pocketed competition for Tanaka, as the Dodgers are expected to be aggressive in pursuing him, and he's on the Angels' radar as well. Despite the success of Yu Darvish, reports have indicated that the Rangers aren't expected to be big-time players for Tanaka, of whom they don't think as highly as Darvish. The Giants, another team that has spend liberally of late, aren't expected to be serious players for Tanaka either, despite having some interest.
The Yankees' motivation may be greater than that of any other suitor, as Tanaka fits within their desire to reduce payroll below the $189MM luxury tax threshold. Tanaka's posting fee won't count against that tax, and his average annual value could be notably lower than the current crop of Major League free agent pitchers.
Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are still trying to come to an agreement on changes to the posting system for Japanese players, but that agreement could be "several weeks away," writes George A. King III of the New York Post. Under the previous system, Japanese teams could've begun posting players on Nov. 1, making the restructuring a significantly negative impact for teams targeting Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka this winter. With Tanaka expected to command such a large financial commitment, teams stand to benefit from knowing sooner rather than later whether or not they have a chance to land him. Here are a few more notes from the international market...
- Independent league right-hander Hideyoshi Ohtake has a tryout with the Red Sox, according to a report from Yahoo Japan passed along by Patrick Newman of NPBTracker (via Twitter). Ohtake's fastball reaches 94 mph on the radar gun.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports that 15-20 teams scouted Cuban catcher Yenier Bello's showcase earlier this week. Bello took batting practice and gave teams a glimpse of his work behind the plate, including making throws to second base and third base.
- Also at that showcase, writes Nicholson-Smith, were right-hander Rogelio Armenteros and first baseman Jozzen Cuesta. Armenteros threw for scouts and topped 90 mph with his heater. The pair of Cuban prospects is represented by the Wasserman Media Group.
- Side-armer Shunsuke Watanabe is going to try to make the jump to Major League Baseball at age 37, according to an Asahi report passed on by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman. Watanbe's delivery is one of the lowest to the ground in pro baseball, Newman notes (his second tweet includes a video), but his pitches top out around 70 mph (Twitter links). Watanabe has spent 13 season with NPB's Chiba Lotte Marines, totaling a 3.65 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Despite his unorthodox delivery, he's spent nearly his entire career as a starting pitcher.
The Angels have hired former infielder Gary DiSarcina to be their new third base coach, a source told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. DiSarcina, 45, spent his entire 12-year playing career in an Angels uniform, batting .258/.292/.341 in 1,086 games. He takes over for Dino Ebel, who was promoted to bench coach. Here's more on the Halos as the offseason gets underway...
- The Angels would like to retain Jason Vargas, but they don't want to give him a three-year pact, writes Gonzalez. The Halos also don't want to approach an average annual value of $10MM for Vargas, who would slot as their fourth starter. As MLBTR's Zach Links explained in the Angels' Offseason Outlook, they'll be working with limited breathing room this winter as they try to steer clear of the luxury tax. Still, the team is currently prioritizing Vargas over other free agents, DiPoto tells Gonzalez.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto confirmed that he has interest in Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Dipoto says that the club has scouted the right-hander "multiple times." Tanaka, who some executive believe will be more expensive than Yu Darvish, has already been connected to other big market clubs like the Yankees and Dodgers.