LOS ANGELES, December 29, 2013 — Masahiro Tanaka is a name in every baseball fan’s head right now. People are anxious to know which team will sign him and for how much. This winter has been a rollercoaster of waiting, hoping and theorizing.
Teams interested in Tanaka first prepared to empty the vault to pay a posting fee for Tanaka. Then MLB announced new rules for the posting system where the most teams would have to spend on a posting fee is $20 million. This caused Tanaka’s team to rethink posting the 25-year-old hurler. Then last week teams got word that Tanaka would be posted after all and the flood gates of teams interested were opened.
The lower posting fee, however, will not equate to overall savings for MLB teams looking to sign Tanaka. It just means that more of that money spent will be going to the player instead of the team that posts him. Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka each received similar deals. Boston paid a posting fee of $51,111,111.11 and signed Dice-K for $52 million over six years. Texas paid a posting fee of $51,703,411 and signed Darvish to a six-year deal worth $56 million.
The team that signs Tanaka will probably be paying somewhere in the range of $17 million to $23 million per year, as well as the $20 million posting fee. Don’t be surprised if you see Tanaka get a six-year deal in the $110 million to $120 million range.
The usual suspects have been rumored to be interested; New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Anaheim Angels, Chicago Cubs, and Texas Rangers. One team that has not been rumored to be interested, however, are the Boston Red Sox, who may still be feeling the sting of their Daisuke Matsuzaka signing.
Tanaka is 25 years old and went 24-0 with a 0.943 WHIP last year for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. Over his seven-year career, Tanaka has a 1.108 WHIP and 1238 strikeouts in 1315 innings pitched with a 99-35 record. He has averaged 8.5 K/9 during his career in Japan.
The 1,315 innings seem to be somewhat of a concern for teams who are worried about the mileage on Tanaka’s arm, elbow and shoulder. Tanaka made it through his early 20s without injury. For comparison, Clayton Kershaw is also 25. Including two years in the minors, Kershaw has thrown 1,363.1 innings over the last seven years. Yet, no one is bringing up his innings as he and the Dodgers explore a contract extension.
As of right now, where Tanaka lands is wide open. Many teams can afford him, while many more teams need him. MLB teams have until 5 p.m. EST on Jan 24. To sign Tanaka. The clock is ticking.
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