Having returned from the United States and meetings with a number of teams, Masahiro Tanaka is once again the big story in Japan, just as he is here. That means translated rumors!
The one that’ll get your attention and make you slap a couch pillow comes from Sports Hochi, which reports that Tanaka came back from his stateside meetings having settled on three finalists: the Yankees, the Dodgers, and the Angels. That translation comes courtesy of Dylan Hernandez, as well as Google Translate (notoriously awful for Japanese articles). It’s hard to discern from the translation the precise source of this information, and the veracity is borderline impossible to establish. Given that there are 11 days left before Tanaka must sign, I’d find it hard to believe he or his agent are all that eager to leak – already – his three finalists.
And let’s not forget: it wasn’t three weeks ago that Tanaka wasn’t going to be posted. And then he was. And then he wasn’t. Rooms full of salt are needed.
That said, the Yankees and Dodgers have always – always – made sense as serious contenders for Tanaka, even if recent reports suggest the Dodgers aren’t all that heavily involved.
A separate report out of Japan doesn’t list any finalists, instead noting only that the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Diamondbacks are involved, together with as many as six other teams.
So, where do things stand? Well, Tanaka and his agent have met with nine or ten teams in Los Angeles, and those teams have been given an initial opportunity to make a pitch. But Tanaka has not yet been to visit any teams/cities directly (other than Los Angeles, but it’s unclear if he actually went to any team facilities there). At least one report of undetermined legitimacy says Tanaka came back from the meetings down to the Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels.
I think it’s possible we’ll hear about future visits soon, but we might not – either because they might not leak, or because Tanaka won’t be taking any. For now, I’ll wait for a stateside report to confirm the substance of the Sports Hochi piece before I conclude that the Cubs – or any other non-Yankee, non-Dodger, non-Angel team – is formally out.