New York Yankees Rumors
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks the top managers in MLB. Red Sox skipper John Farrell comes in at No. 1 thanks to his communication skills, ability to delegate responsibilities well, and, of course, his 2013 World Series ring. Bob Melvin, Terry Francona, Bruce Bochy, and Joe Maddon round out the top five. More from today's column..
- There have been no talks concerning a contract extension between the Indians and Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera can become a free agent at the end of the season, but it appears the Indians want to see how he rebounds from a down season. Cafardo sees the shortstop as a potential target for the Yankees next offseason.
- The Dodgers outfield surplus should work in their favor to start the year with Matt Kemp on the mend, but that doesn't mean GM Ned Colletti won't consider a move later in the season. One National League special assistant believes that Andre Ethier would work out very well with the Red Sox. “He needs someone to kick him in the butt, that’s why he would be perfect in Boston with [Dustin] Pedroia. That’s his buddy, and Pedroia would get the most out of him. He doesn’t have anyone like that in L.A.,” said the exec.
- Don't be surprised if the Yankees' efforts to land Ervin Santana intensify in the coming weeks. Even after landing Masahiro Tanaka, the Bombers could use one more solid starter to round out their starting five.
- J.J. Hardy is in the final year of his contract with the Orioles and they would like nothing more than to keep him. Baltimore will have to pony up some serious cash, however, as he could demand a deal of at least five years, possibly in the $15-17MM range.
More running appears to be one aspect of the American game that Masahiro Tanaka will have to adjust to, David Waldstein of The New York Times writes. The Yankees' $155MM man handled a short bullpen session in practice this morning, but "gasped for breath as if he were an amateur runner nearing the end of his first marathon" after a 1-mile jog with other Yankees pitchers, according to Waldstein. "I didn’t know that I was going to run this much," he told reporters. "I’m a little bit of a slow runner." A Spring Training's worth of runs will presumably bring Tanaka up to speed. Here's more from around the AL East:
- Some within the Yankees organization pushed the idea of a trade for a starting shortstop in Spring Training in 1996, when rookie Derek Jeter was struggling, Joe Torre told ESPN New York in a radio interview. Torre said he backed Jeter for the Opening Day job, however, as the Yankees were already committed to him in that role.
- Suk-Min Yoon should be able to join the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., for Spring Training workouts after he passes his physical and completes his $5.575MM, three-year deal with the club, sources tell Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Yoon will still have to have his work visa processed, however.
- O's starter Chris Tillman has finally blossomed into the rotation leader the club was expecting when they brought him over in the 2008 Erik Bedard trade, Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun writes. Prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy say they look up to Tillman as a mentor figure.
As camps open around the game, let's take a look at a few notable free agents who remain unsigned:
- Though long-time shortstop Derek Jeter is now set to retire after the year, and the club faces questions around the infield, the Yankees are still not interested in adding Stephen Drew, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. Marchand notes that the club could have its eye on a bigger fish as an eventual replacement for Jeter, suggesting the possibility of looking at next year's free agent market or trying to trade for a big-contract star like Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes. But the availability of those options remains unclear, especially given that the Yanks possess a farm that most regard as below average. And while 2015 currently promises a nice crop of free agent shortstops -- headlined, at present, by Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, and Asdrubal Cabrera -- it is far from certain that all of those players will reach the open market.
- Echoing Marchand on the Yankees' interest, ESPN.com's Buster Olney told WEEI's Mut & Merloni (via WEEI.com's Jerry Spar) that Drew's market looks poor. The Pirates make sense in theory, says Olney, but the club seems very unlikely to give up its first-round pick to land him. Olney opines that the shortstop's best bet, at this point, could be to wait and see if a contender loses an infielder to injury. Though he agrees that Drew faces difficult market, Jonathan Bernhardt of Sports on Earth argues that Drew and agent Scott Boras should instead act quickly to speed up negotiations and get the best deal possible.
- Of course, one obvious landing spot all along has been the Red Sox, who could use Drew to bolster the left side of the infield without giving up a pick (other than the one they stand to gain should he sign elsewhere). As WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports, however, Boston has settled into the position that it would be interested in a one-year arrangement. That could take the form of a straightforward one-year deal, or could be structured with a low-value player option for a second season (like Adrian Beltre's 2010 deal) that would spread the contract's luxury tax impact.
- The Twins, who have been mentioned as a dark horse suitor for both Drew and outfielder Nelson Cruz, likely have sufficient payroll space to make an addition, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the team is not willing to meet the demands currently being floated on those players, and has not been in recent contact on either.
- Bean Stringfellow, the agent for starter Ervin Santana, rejected an apparent rumor that the Blue Jays had offered his client a three-year, $27MM deal, reports John Lott of the National Post. Stringfellow also dismissed the rumor that he had earlier demanded five years and $112MM for Santana. Though some clubs may hope to wait out the market for prices to fall, Stringfellow says he is not concerned by that possibility. "The calendar doesn't really affect us in that regard," he said. "The teams need the pitching by Opening Day. That's when the bell rings. I think a lot of clubs might think that as [Opening Day] gets closer, the price comes down. I would simply say to that, 'You're not filling your need for pitching, so I don't know why our value is any less when your need is still as great as what it was.'"
- Though Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to comment on any offers to Santana, he said that the club would remain true to its internal valuations of free agents. "We just haven't been able to line up on value, on years and dollars," Anthopoulos added with regard to the team's possible targets.
- Another team that is reportedly dabbling in the starting pitching market is the Mariners. The club is not just looking at top options like Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter), but is casting a "wide net" in its search for an arm.
- Free agent reliever Ryan Madson is looking for a major league deal, sources tell MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he received good reports from Madson's recent throwing session, but did not leave the impression that Philadelphia was the likely landing spot. "Our reports were good when we saw him," said Amaro, "so he's going to sign somewhere." As Zolecki notes, Philly may be unwilling to give out a major league deal, especially given Madson's injury history and the recent signing of A.J. Burnett.
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne held a showcase at the Padres' Spring Training complex today, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported (via Twitter) that more than 20 teams had scouts on-hand to see the pair. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants were all there to scout Diaz (Twitter links). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter), Diaz could command as much as $20-30MM as a free agent. However, he is ineligible to sign until next week (Feb. 19) at the earliest. Here's more on the international market...
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Diaz could look to choose a club as soon as Friday or Saturday of next week.
- Sanchez adds that Diaz and Despaigne have also schedule four more showcases in Florida, beginning this weekend, in order to allow clubs whose Spring Training facilities are in that state easier scouting access. Despaigne's next showcase will come in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, according to Sanchez (Twitter links). The Rays' Spring Training complex is in Port Charlotte, for what it's worth.
- The Dodgers continued their aggressive approach on the international front today, signing 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder Carlos Mosquera, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- Cuba sent a team to the Caribbean Series in Venezuela for the first time since 1960, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler (subscription required and recommended). As such, Major League scouts flocked to the series in order to get a first-hand look at some of the talent. Badler says that most scouts left underwhelmed, but four players -- outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Jose Fernandez, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and right-hander Norge Ruiz -- each jumped out. Badler provides scouting reports for each, with the write-ups on Ruiz and Despaigne being lengthier than those on Fernandez and Gourriel. Previously, Badler has written that Ruiz, 19, is establishing himself as a rising star.
Perhaps the most intriguing "what if?" scenario in recent baseball history is what if Alex Rodriguez has joined the Red Sox (rather than the Yankees) prior to the 2004 season. The Deal, the latest instalment of ESPN's "30 For 30 Shorts" series, explores the near-trade that would've sent Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Brandon McCarthy from the Rangers to the Red Sox in exchange for Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra and Jon Lester. A-Rod even agreed to restructure his contract and take less money to make the deal work, though this was what eventually scuttled the trade, as the MLBPA wouldn't allow the agreement due to the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. Only a few weeks later, Texas instead traded Rodriguez to the Yankees and the rest is history.
Here's the latest in a very newsworthy day from around the AL East...
- Derek Jeter's impending retirement underscores the Yankees' lack of shortstop depth, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch writes, as it seems that Jeter's eventual replacement isn't currently on New York's roster. The Yankees could sign one of the quality shortstops available in next winter's free agent class, Hoch notes, or Stephen Drew exists as a current option that could be signed to play second or third for a year and then take over at short in 2015.
- Scott Boras, Drew's agent, has recently been looking to get his client an opt-out clause after the first year of a new deal. While some see Boras' demands as a longshot, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello notes that the opt-out could fit into the Yankees' plans, making Drew an even more obvious upgrade for the club's infield.
- The Red Sox haven't offered Drew a contract for longer than one year, John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports (via Twitter). Drew would like at least a one-year contract and an option, a source tells Tomase.
- The Orioles continue to be in contact with Kendrys Morales' representatives and are still interested in the free agent slugger, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- It seems as if the Orioles prefer Ervin Santana to Ubaldo Jimenez, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes, as he has heard more tying the O's to the former free agent hurler than he has the latter. "I know the Orioles have talked to his people, but I didn’t get a sense that he was atop their list," Connolly says. There were whispers earlier this week that the O's were upping their pursuit of Santana or Jimenez. In the same piece, Connolly answers a number of Orioles-related questions from fans on Twitter.
First, McDaniel explains that the club's initial strategy was to reach agreement with a group of six players on the same day earlier in the winter. (The league's spending caps continue to drive the agreement timeline earlier, requiring teams to make larger commitments, notes McDaniel.) About $12MM was verbally committed at that point, spread amongst youngsters Dermis Garcia (a Domincan third baseman), Nelson Gomez (same), Juan De Leon (a Dominican center fielder), Jonathan Amundaray (a Venezuelan outfielder), Chris Torres (a Dominican shortstop), and Diego Castillo (a Venezuelan shortstop).
Other teams, too, are rumored to have struck verbal agreements with various players, as McDaniel details. But with several well-regarded talents still purportedly available, sources say that New York may now be planning a "second phase" that could bring the total spend as high as $20MM.
FEBRUARY 7: In an effort to replenish a bleak farm system, the Yankees are preparing to "spend wildly" on the international free agent market this summer, industry sources tell Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com reported in late December that New York was planning to incur penalties by spending $12MM to $15MM on the approaching 2014-15 international signing period. The new signing season, which kicks off (as always) on July 2, is believed by many to offer a particularly strong crop of talent.
The Yankees are allotted just over $2MM to spend on international free agents this summer, but the ESPNNewYork.com duo reports that the club may spend a staggering $18MM in bonuses as they look to restock their minor league ranks with high-upside talent. Such an expenditure would come with the harshest of penalties laid out in the newest CBA; the Yankees would pay a 100 percent tax on their overage and would not be allowed to sign a player for more than $250K in the following international signing period. While those measures are undoubtedly harsh, they haven't stopped the Cubs and Rangers from spending more than $8MM each on international free agents during the current signing period.
Marchand and Matthews continue by stating that one reason behind the potential spending spree is the fear of an eventual international draft that will remove such tactics as a possibility. While the international draft talks have reportedly been tabled until after the 2016 season, implementing such a big spending strategy in 2014-15 could potentially allow the Yankees to employ the tactic twice more before the draft might become a reality. (In my mind, seeing teams pursue such a tactic may only enhance the industry's desire for an international draft.)
General manager Brian Cashman wouldn't comment on the team's spending plans, but he did go on record as saying that it is "certainly our prerogative" to spend more than the allotted amount. One member of the Yankees organization offered the following anonymous quote:
"We consider it a strategic option. Whether we play it this year hasn't been decided. At some point I would imagine we would. It might make sense. One of the things that is looming is the [international] draft and once that happens, we have the same circumstances as in the U.S."
Legendary Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced today on his Facebook page that he will retire after the 2014 season (hat tip to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, whose colleague Mark Feinsand tweets that agent Casey Close has confirmed the retirement). Jeter, who turns 40 in June, re-signed with the Yankees -- the only franchise he's ever played for -- earlier in the off-season.
The coming season will be Jeter's 20th MLB campaign (though he saw just 51 plate appearances in his first taste of MLB action at age 21). Taken with the sixth overall pick of the 1992 draft, Jeter performed consistently in his rise through the system, and never looked back upon making the Yankees. Since becoming a full-time big leaguer in 1996, Jeter went 17 straight years with at least 542 trips to the dish. Over that stretch, Jeter posted a composite .313/.382/.448 line with 255 home runs and 348 stolen bases. Needless to say, his standard of consistent excellence has been matched by few others.
That run of good health came to an end last year, which Jeter says is a major reason for his decision today. "Last year was a tough one for me," said Jeter. "As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle."
Indeed, while things always did seem to come easily to the shortstop, he was perhaps better known for his hard work and leadership. The Yanks' emergence from mediocrity and notable run of success aligns quite clearly with his career: the team qualified for the post-season in all but two of Jeter's seasons (2008 and 2013). Over that span, the team won added five World Series victories to New York's tally. And Jeter was even better in the post-season, posting a lifetime .308/.374/.465 triple-slash in a remarkable 734 career post-season plate appearances.
Along the way, of course, Jeter racked up ample amounts of individual hardware, including 13 All-Star appearances, five Silver Sluggers, the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year Award, and the 2000 World Series MVP. Somewhat surprisingly, particularly given his high profile, he never took home an American League MVP nod.
He was also awarded five Gold Glove awards, somewhat more controversially. Proponents of advanced metrics argue that Jeter has actually been rather a poor defensive shortstop: though he makes few errors, neither does he have much range. (Jeter has been worth -147 Defensive Runs Saved and a -67.8 UZR.)
Whatever one thinks of Jeter as a defender, he has unquestionably put up a Hall of Fame-worthy career. That inevitability was likely sealed when he notched his 3,000th hit, but is also supported by the numbers. Jeter has racked up a total of 71.6 rWAR and 73.8 fWAR to date, which places him at 58th and 45th, respectively, on the all-time list of position players. As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs argues, Jeter falls short of only Cal Ripken in total production among full-time shortstops since Honus Wagner retired in 1917. (Though, to be fair, Jeter is quite close to several other shortstops in both fWAR and rWAR, and falls behind several of them according to the latter metric.)
Those wins did not come cheap, however. Once his 2014 earnings are in the bag, Jeter will have earned over $265MM over his career. For sake of comparison, Chipper Jones -- who racked up 85.1 rWAR over 1995-2012 -- took down nearly $100MM less in his time in the bigs. And Carlos Beltran, who has been worth 67.5 rWAR since 1998, will reach just under $206MM by the time his new contract expires after 2016.
For the Yankees, Jeter's retirement confirms what had been suspected: the team needs a new shortstop for 2015 and beyond. Though Brendan Ryan will remain under contract, he does not profile as a starter on a team that hopes to win championships. At least one team executive told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he did not know that Jeter planned to retire (Twitter link), so it is at least conceivable that today's announcement could have some impact on whether New York looks to make any more moves before embarking on the 2014 season.
Here are some notes from the game's eastern divisions:
- After watching rehabbing reliever Ryan Madson throw on Friday, the Nationals came away impressed, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. Reportedly throwing in front of representatives from 15 clubs, Madson is said to have touched 93 mph during the session.
- Nationals rotation candidate Taylor Jordan suffered a broken ankle over the off-season, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Jordan seems to be ready to go, though manager Matt Williams says the club will keep a close eye on him to ensure that ankle issues do not impact his motion and create bigger problems.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke again about the club's shortstop situation, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. He tempered expectations of a Stephen Drew signing, saying that it remained possible but only "under the right circumstances." Alderson also said that the team was looking to the trade market, but a rival executive tells Carig that New York would probably need to give up young pitching to add anything worthwhile up the middle.
- The Orioles have stepped up their interest in Ervin Santana since losing out on Bronson Arroyo, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Though he is not sure how heavily the club will pursue the free agent starter, Connolly says that Baltimore is definitely still in the mix.
- Speculation arose that South Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon may have signed with the Orioles after a picture was apparently sent from his Twitter account purportedly showing him donning an O's cap. But two high-ranking team officials tell MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko that they have heard nothing about an agreement with Yoon (Twitter link). Likewise, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) that no agreement has been reached. Baltimore has certainly been linked to the 27-year-old, but as of now it is just one of five clubs in the mix, according to Rosenthal.
- Filling in for the suspended Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees expect to use Kelly Johnson as the left-handed side of a platoon at third, reports Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. GM Brian Cashman said that the team would pick from among "a cast of characters that are going to compete for that spot on the right side."
Though he's yet to throw a pitch in the Major Leagues, the Yankees committed a massive $175MM to sign 25-year-old righty Masahiro Tanaka in January. $20MM of that went to his old team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, with $155MM going to Tanaka. Tanaka's contract is the third-largest ever for a pitcher in MLB history, topped only by Clayton Kershaw's new extension with the Dodgers and C.C. Sabathia's 2008 free agent deal with the Yankees. Like those deals, Tanaka's includes an opt-out clause.
Tanaka comes to MLB for the 2014 season after posting what many scouts refer to as "video game numbers" in Japan last year: a 24-0 record and a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings. Last Friday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman did his best to temper expectations for Tanaka in a conversation with ESPN's Ian O'Connor. Cashman said he expects the pitcher to have growing pains in the States, and asked his ultimate upside two or three years down the road, the GM said Tanaka "has the potential to be a really solid consistent number three starter." Free agent salaries continue to rise, but I don't think the Yankees would spend that kind of money on a pitcher they thought might become a number three a year or two before his opt-out clause comes up.
Unbiased opinions were needed. To get a feel for Tanaka's repertoire and approach, injury risk, and overall ability, I spoke to high-ranking officials with scouting-related positions for four MLB teams (referred to simply as "scouts" later in this article). Each has seen the pitcher in person extensively, and none work for the Yankees.
Before we begin, here is a refresher on the 20-80 (or 2-8) scouting scale from Kevin Goldstein, formerly of Baseball Prospectus: "A score of 50 is major-league average, 60 is above-average (also referred to as "plus"), and 70 is among the best ("plus-plus"). 80 is top of the charts, and not a score that gets thrown around liberally." For more information on scouting pitchers from Goldstein, click here.
Scouting Report: Three Plus Pitches
Tanaka's fastball typically sits between 91-93 miles per hour, with the ability to touch 96 mph. Most of the scouts to whom I spoke graded his fastball as a 6, or plus, though one put a 70 on the heater. One scout praised his fastball in saying he throws a "heavy ball," though two others noted the pitch can get flat or straight at times. One of those two said Tanaka's fastball is "probably his most hittable pitch, in a way."
Scouts agreed Tanaka has a second or third gear for his fastball. In Japan he'd often be in "cruise control" for the first half of the game, ramping his fastball up into the mid-90s later if he needed to. Noted one scout who loves Tanaka, "When they're in Japan, they don't have to throw their best stuff because the league's not as good." That figures to change for Tanaka in MLB, given the deeper lineups.
Tanaka clearly had plus-plus control in Japan, with walk rates below two per nine innings in each of the last four seasons. Scouts feel that will translate to plus in the States. Grading Tanaka's command, one scout said "60 or 70," another went with 55, and one gave a 5. The most pessimistic scout elaborated, "I actually thought with the offspeed stuff, the splitter and the slider especially, I thought there was more command of those pitches. And I thought with the fastball he definitely threw strikes to an above average level but I thought the command, pinpointing it, was just average." When Tanaka does get into trouble in MLB, there's a good chance it will be the result of throwing hittable fastballs.
Next is Tanaka's splitter, by most accounts a nasty pitch. One scout put an 8 on it, suggesting if you don't put an 8 on this particular pitch, then you might be the type who never gives out 8s. He explained, "It's not a tumbling pitch. It's more of a disappearing fastball. It's not a Contreras splitter that comes out and kind of flutters." Two others put 7s on the splitter, though one dissented with a 6. That person admitted the split "could be plus-plus," but unlike his peers, he feels Tanaka's best pitch is his slider.
The lone scout who prefers the slider explained, "I think it's a true slider with a good tilt, he would get depth to it more than ones that are plus-plus." He feels the slider has a slight lead over the splitter, noting the slider has been Tanaka's pitch since his high school days. With the other scouts, Tanaka's slider received a 6 across the board.
It is generally agreed that Tanaka's fastball, splitter, and slider are plus pitches, and he'll get strikeouts with each. For a change of pace, he also throws a slow curveball, described by one scout as "useful." This pitch grades in the 45-50 range. Tanaka's ability to throw this pitch for strikes allows him to pitch backward if he chooses. Typically, though, Tanaka's approach is aggressive, as one scout explained: "He pitches inside, he doesn't pitch away from contact a lot. Some guys in Japan, they're not as aggressive. He has more of a Western style that he's not afraid to go up and in, he's not afraid to pitch inside. He pitches kind of with a little chip on his shoulder."
Reduced Strikeout Rate: Red Flag?
Though he posted a 1.27 ERA, Tanaka struck out only 7.8 batters per nine innings last year in Japan. That mark was his lowest since 2010. While one scout admitted, "It's certainly not a positive," all agreed the reduced strikeout rate is not a cause for concern. Explained another, "He's the type of guy that if he wants to, he can go out and strike out hitters. He's a brilliant, smart pitcher and he's not afraid to pitch to contact. I saw him doing that a lot that last couple years. That's one of the reasons he was able to stay efficient with his pitch counts." Throw in MLB lineups that are much more prone to swinging and missing, and there's good reason to believe Tanaka will whiff more than 7.8 per nine in 2014.
Heavy Workload: Cause For Concern?
In December, multiple MLB executives expressed concern to Yahoo's Jeff Passan regarding Tanaka's high pitch counts. The righty averaged about 110 pitches per regular season start in 2013, with seven outings in excess of 122 and a high of 136. Most famously, Tanaka threw 160 pitches in a Japan Series game and another 15 the next day in relief. In total, he threw 1,315 innings through his age-24 season, which hasn't happened in the Majors since the mid-70s, according to SI's Tom Verducci. Perhaps the GMs and owners calling the shots were worried about Tanaka's high pitch counts, but most of the scouts we talked to brushed it off.
"He's been trained for that his entire life," remarked one. Another noted his durable, solid body and suggested he's someone who might be able to handle throwing a lot of pitches. One scout noted that while it's obviously not a great idea to throw 160 pitches in a game, Japanese pitchers typically get six or seven days rest between starts, making the total mileage similar to MLB starters. None of the four feel that Tanaka's injury risk exceeds that of a typical MLB starter. Keep in mind, however, that the chance of going on the disabled list for the average MLB starter is around 39% for 2014, based on research from Jeff Zimmerman for FanGraphs.
Tanaka's Overall Projection
In a tweet last month, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the comparables he's heard most often for Tanaka are Hiroki Kuroda and prime-age Dan Haren, plus reliever Bryan Harvey for his splitter. One scout agreed with the Haren comp, noting that Tanaka has more arm strength. Others cited Zack Greinke and Matt Cain.
In terms of placing an overall grade on Tanaka, opinions ranged, but all were quite positive. One scout, who admitted being "toward the higher end of the spectrum," described Tanaka as a number one starter, without hesitation. He expects Tanaka to contend for the Cy Young, and feels he'll be one of the ten best starting pitchers in MLB in 2014.
The other three scouts placed Tanaka in a slightly lower tier, ranking him in the #15-25 range among all MLB starters for 2014. Two of them described him as a number two starter.
The mystery of how Tanaka will perform in Major League Baseball should be resolved in short order. He'll face MLB hitters in Spring Training later this month, and could have a bit of a soft landing with the Yankees' first three regular season games coming in Houston in early April.
- Yankees Sign Masahiro Tanaka
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman On Signing Tanaka
- Tanaka Signing Reactions And Fallout
- The New Posting System And What It Means For MLB
- Latest Yankees Rumors
- 2014 MLB Free Agent Tracker
- MLB Trade Rumors on Twitter
11:38am: MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports (via Twitter) that there's "no way" Santana signs today. Dierkes' source says that there are three to four teams with serious interest.
10:59am: Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca hears from a source that Santana did indeed move closer to striking a deal this weekend. However, the Blue Jays "aren't the ones driving the sudden turn in his market," according to Davidi.
7:58am: The Orioles aren't close to a deal with Santana at this time, a source tells Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
MONDAY, 7:12am: Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that there's no interest in Santana from the Twins, but he hears that the Orioles, Mariners, Dodgers, Yankees and Indians have all inquired on Santana within the past few days. Of course, the Dodgers signed Paul Maholm over the weekend, so they may no longer be in the market for another starter.
SUNDAY: Free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana seems to finally be heading toward a deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays and the Orioles have both been in touch with Santana. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, meanwhile, tweets that the Orioles will strongly pursue Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez this week.
Santana, of course, is coming off a strong 2013 season in which he posted a 3.24 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 211 innings with the Royals. His path to a new team has been blocked, however, first by the uncertainty regarding Masahiro Tanaka's destination, and now by the fact that the team that signs him will have to forfeit a draft pick. As Rosenthal points out, the Jays' No. 9 and No. 11 picks are protected, which means they would only have to forfeit their No. 49 overall pick. The Orioles would lose their top draft choice, at No. 17.
Rosenthal notes that the Orioles are unlikely to be able to sign A.J. Burnett, as reports earlier this weekend indicated. They were among the finalists for Bronson Arroyo, but Arroyo recently agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks.