The Rakuten Golden Eagles have decided to post their star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka for a fee of $20MM. Now some MLB front offices are running wild to try to work this 25-year-old Japanese pitcher into their budget. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season.
Teams will have a chance to battle it out for the chance to sign this ace as the posting process is already in effect and will continue until January 24, if needed.
Though teams are interested in this potential star, Tanaka’s workload is a serious concern, writes Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. He has thrown 1,315 innings, a workload completely unlike those of most young big-league pitchers at his 25-year-old age, at least in the last few decades. “Everyone is acting like it’s a no-brainer all-in just because he’s 25,” said an executive for an MLB team. “He’s still a pitcher and he’s still got serious miles on him. [Tanaka is a] very attractive player nonetheless but a real risk … as with basically all pitchers.”
Some believe that the Seattle Mariners are a front runner to acquire Tanaka because of a reunion with former Golden Eagles ace, Hisashi Iwakuma. ESPN’s Jayson Stark believes Seattle has a real threat to land Tanaka.
It’s early on Tanaka watch. But constant theme from interested teams is: Watch out for #Mariners. Execs think they have one big move left
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 2, 2014
The Atlanta Braves were once a “sleeper” in the Tanaka signing discussions but I do not feel as though the Braves are touching or even taking a second look at this contract. Other than Seattle, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Detriot Tigers, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Los Angles Angels and the New York Yankees.
Bobby Valentine, who managed Chiba Lotte in Japan’s Pacific League, saw Tanaka as a rookie in 2007 and then over the next two seasons. Valentine said his club wanted to draft Tanaka, but lost the lottery for the top pick. Bobby V weighed in on what he feels Masahiro Tanaka should do.
“If I was him, I would pitch in the National League,” Valentine said. “I would pitch on the West Coast and I would pitch where the weather isn’t going to be a factor.”
“He pitches like Jose Fernandez,” Valentine told The Post on Friday, referring to the Miami Marlins ace and NL Rookie of the Year. “I think [Tanaka] has similar stuff and similar competitiveness. He is battle-proven, and there is nothing you wouldn’t like about him. He would be a credit to anybody’s staff.”