News on a landing spot for Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka has been expected between now and Thursday. But now Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets that the decision could take til Friday since Tanaka may stand on a physical taken during his trip to Los Angeles earlier in the month. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains (Twitter links), the results of Tanaka's January 9th physical were shared with interested clubs, but teams may want their own medical staff to get a firsthand look. Either way, Tanaka must be signed to a deal with no contingencies on or before Friday at 4pm central time. We'll keep tabs on today's news right here:
- In case you missed it from this morning, ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote an Insider piece that profiles Tanaka agent Casey Close of Excel Sports Management. The relatively non-promotional and rumor-free negotiation process reflects the businesslike personalities of both Close and Tanaka, Olney suggests.
- Teams bidding on Tanaka are "in for at least 6 or 7 years," reports Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (on Twitter). The average annual value will be "at or above" $20MM, Levine adds. Put those numbers together, of course, and Levine's report suggests that Tanaka will command at least $120MM (in addition, presumably, to the $20MM posting fee).
- The Red Sox "do not appear to be among the finalists" in the Tanaka sweepstakes, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- Astros owner Jim Crane says that the team is interested in Tanaka, reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (via Twitter). We heard yesterday that Houston may have been one of the clubs to have met with Tanaka and his representatives. It is still not known, of course, whether the 'Stros interest has manifested itself as a competitive, formal offer. And McTaggart tweets that, in his opinion, the club is a "longshot."
- Once Tanaka officially comes off the board, baseball is set to experience a rush of important free agent signings that has not been experienced in recent seasons, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker documents. On or after January 24, 2009, there were six multi-year free agent deals and three contracts that included at least $10MM in guaranteed money. Last year, five and three deals hit those respective marks on or after 1/24. The intervening years – 2012 (2/2), 2011 (0/0), and 2010 (1/1) — had much fewer substantial, late signings. Assuming that no major deals go down before Friday, however, at least eight still-available free agents seem quite likely to get multi-year deals that guarantee over $10MM: Tanaka, Kendrys Morales, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ervin Santana. A good number of others — including A.J. Burnett, Paul Maholm, Chris Capuano, Grant Balfour, and Fernando Rodney — still have an excellent chance at scoring multiple years, eight-figure guarantees, or both.