David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka might not be allowed to play Major League Baseball


All interested Major League Baseball teams might miss out on free agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. As reports from yesterday get clearer in the last 24 hours, it appears that Tanaka’s current team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, might decline $20 million they would get for posting Tanaka and force him to stay in Japan.

As Matt Cowlishaw covered here last night, the offer from Rakuten stands to be a record…for Japan. But as Craig Calcaterra at HardBall Talk explains, that might be of little solace to Tanaka:

Rather, as reported last night, they are going to offer him a contract in the neighborhood of $8 million and force him to stay in Japan.

This would be way less than what Tanaka could earn in the U.S., but what he could earn in the U.S. would mean little if anything to Rakuten, who is under no obligation to post Tanaka…If this holds it’s a big financial blow to Tanaka.”

Among the teams who might have been interested were the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. The Dodgers, in particular, would have likely thrown a pile of cash into the conversation in an attempt to bolster their already formidable rotation without having to surrender assets in a trade.

Understandably the focus here is on what an MLB team, whichever team would have landed Tanaka, stands to lose. But we should also note what a team like the Tampa Bay Rays has to gain: one less star starting pitcher available in free agency and therefore an increased measure of urgency from potential trade partners for David Price.

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka