This morning on MLB Network Radio, it was verified that five teams have put in a bid on the 25-year old Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
The list of teams should come as no surprise to anybody: the Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, White Sox, and Diamondbacks have all put their offers on the table for Tanaka and agent Casey Close to consider. All of the offers are reportedly around the same dollar amount and years, somewhere around six years and over $100 million.
While the Yankees have the most pressing need for Tanaka, and the Dodgers clearly have the most money to spend, it’s been the Chicago Cubs that have been in the news the most over the past week as it relates to the right handed phenom. Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, GM and PBO for the Cubs respectively, have let it be known that they have all intentions of selling Tanaka on their current youth and the direction of the franchise. Their sales pitch will have had to have been tremendous if they hope of landing Tanaka in front of the free-spending Dodgers and Yankees. The Cubs do seem to be the most outwardly aggressive team, while Los Angeles and New York have been content to let their wallets speak for them.
Coming off of signing a record-breaking 7-year, $215 million dollar contract with Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have not been known to actually have a spending limit when it comes to their team. This is helped largely by the massive $8 billion television deal with Time Warner Cable and all of the publicity and promotion that goes into their programming on SportsNetLA. Recent rumors of Tanaka’s wife saying she would prefer the West Coast could play a part in choosing the Dodgers as well.
The Yankees, always known to be big spenders in the past, have been teetering on the brink of either staying under the $189 million luxury tax threshold or completely blowing it out of the water. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was on with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on “Front Office” this morning, speculating exactly what the game plan for the Bronx Bombers could be.
I can’t see the Yankees not going there. Because the Yankees are in this thing. They’re in it with the understanding that if they get it, they’re going over the luxury tax threshold. If they go over the luxury tax threshold, what’s the difference in how much they go over by? And in fact, if they do get Tanaka at $120[million] 140, whatever the number might be, I would expect them to do some other things as well, because at that point they’d be right past $189, and if you’re going to be at $195, you might as well be at $215, from their perspective. They’ve got the money, it’s just a matter of the tax and all of that, and I don’t see what the difference would be for them.
In fact, rumor has it that Free Agent players who have had an interest in playing for New York, players like Grant Balfour, Bronson Arroyo, and others are waiting to see if the Yankees do go past the luxury tax threshold. As Rosenthal mentioned, once a team goes over the $189 million mark, there is no extra penalty for going any further past it.
The White Sox seemed to be the most earnest last weekend, but with their speculation and hope that Tanaka won’t make his decision based off of money alone, their chances seem to be the lowest. The Diamondbacks’ general manager, Kevin Towers, and manager Kirk Gibson are likely in the final years of their time in Arizona, something made evident by their options not being picked up by the team. That sort of desperation could drive them to push their offer for Tanaka to the absolute brink without necessarily having to worry about the impact on the payroll past 2014.
Tanaka, who went 24-0 with the Rakutan Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, must sign with a team by Friday, with the signing team paying a $20 million posting fee, otherwise he will not be pitching in Major League Baseball this year.