The deadline for signing Masahiro Tanaka is January 24, but that doesn’t mean he can’t come to terms with a team much sooner than that. Worth keeping in mind …
- To that point, the Yankees have already contacted Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, to start discussions, according to Marc Carig. The Yankees have long been viewed as the prohibitive favorite on Tanaka – though the reasons for their favorite status have changed as the posting system evolved – so the fact that they are being aggressive is no surprise. Increasingly, it’s becoming accepted that the Yankees will not be burdened by the $189 million luxury tax cap, regardless of the outcome of the Alex Rodriguez suspension. In other words, according to the prevailing rumors of the day, the Yankees are going to go all out to get Tanaka, regardless of the financial implications. Those implications are significant: not only are the Yankees due to pay 40% of the amount they are over the tax cap (not really a big deal – if they go over by $10 million, that’s just another $4 million for them to pay), but they also forfeit certain revenue-sharing refund dollars that could amount to tens and tens of millions of dollars over the course of the next few years. Is Tanaka really worth $20 million (posting fee) plus $120 million (contract estimate) plus $10 million (luxury tax hit estimate) plus untold millions tied to the revenue-sharing rebates? That’s not a loaded question, because the answer may well be, “yeah, he might.” The Yankees need starting pitching like whoa, and missing the playoffs is a huge financial hit to them.
- How much will Tanaka cost? We’ve all been throwing out numbers blindly, but it sounds like we’re in the right range, according to sources of Bob Nightengale’s – they say the bidding starts at $17 million per year. At six years, that’s just north of $100 million – plus $20 million for the posting fee, and you’ve got the six-year, $120 million minimum we’ve all kind of implicitly been starting with. For me, I can easily see the bidding reaching six years and $120 million (just for the contract), or even seven years and $140 million.
- Gabe Kapler writes that he’s also heard six years and $100 million will be the starting point, and he does some WAR/$ calculating that suggests Tanaka will be worth something right there in the six year, $120/$125 million range. There’s so much estimating and projection involved there that I’m not really going to do much WAR calculating with Tanaka. You’ve just gotta trust your scouts, and roll the dice on the upside (and you’ve got to be in a position where a $120 million bust out isn’t going to cripple your organization).
- A baseball official tells the New York Daily News that the Mariners are “going to be a factor” in the Tanaka chase. Maybe so – with huge dollars already committed to Robinson Cano, the Mariners’ window to compete is suddenly “immediately.” Tanaka would help. Will ownership support making two enormous bets in the same offseason? If rumors of a possible sale in the next few years are true (publicly, Mariners ownership denies it), the answer easily could be yes.
- The Dodgers continue to play it coy about having any interest in signing Tanaka, which is humorous given that every outsider lists them among the top two or three possible landing spots. Are they just engaging in gamesmanship, or are they seriously going to pass on an opportunity to SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS?
- Peter Abraham writes that there is no sign yet that the Red Sox are interested in Tanaka. Once again, their name comes up frequently from outside observers, but with an overflowing staff, a bad previous experience in this arena, and a new-found aversion to significant, long-term commitments, there are reasons to question the Red Sox’s involvement (or least, there are reasons to credit sources who suggest that the Red Sox aren’t going to be serious suitors). Still, I can’t quite count them out.
- Evan Grant does some serious shuffling and calculating to come up with ways the Rangers could afford Tanaka, though he concedes it’s a longshot.
- Joel Sherman lists the Cubs among eight contenders, with the Yankees, for Tanaka, saying that folks in the industry expect the Cubs to be “significant bidders.” Ignore that part about not competing until 2016. Hopefully Tanaka ignores it, as well.
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