The market's most intriguing name, Masahiro Tanaka, will undoubtedly continue to generate ample speculation, rumors, and discussion until he chooses a destination. Here are today's notes on the former Rakuten ace, including multiple accounts that tilt towards a reunion in Seattle with Hisashi Iwakuma, who once fronted the rotation of the Golden Eagles alongside Tanaka:
- Competing executives view the Mariners as a real threat to land Tanaka, tweets ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. The industry perception, says Stark, is that Seattle can make one more big splash to accompany its signing of Robinson Cano.
- Based on his own conversations with industry sources, Baseball America's Ben Badler agrees that Seattle is the odds-on favorite amongst the ten most likely landing spots. Badler believes that the team has the strongest blend of need and available cash with respect to Tanaka. The other top contenders for Tanaka are the Yankees, Dodgers, and Cubs, says Badler, while the Tigers figure as a "sleeper" team and "lurkers" include the Rangers, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, and Angels
- Looking at things from the perspective of need, rather than handicapping the results of the market, Seattle again comes out in the lead, according to Dave Szymborski of ESPN.com (Insider piece). Adding Tanaka could be the best way for the Mariners to build towards the approximately ten WAR that the club still needs to add to be a full-blown threat in a reloaded AL West, Szymborski says. Other teams that could most use the 25-year-old Japanese hurler include the Phillies and Orioles.
- Attempting to find comparable players for Tanaka, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron argues that his upside may not come with a sufficient floor to justify a nine-figure investment. Given Tanaka's anticipated blend of low walk, average strikeout, and high groundball rates, says Cameron, reasonable expectations should perhaps be that he'll be above average but not great. While a series of attractive starters have thrived with Tanaka's skillset, Cameron explains, there are plenty of other potential comparables who would never receive those kinds of dollars.