The Daily Tanaka: MLB Asks Rakuten for Written Assurance No Side Deal Exists with Masahiro Tanaka

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, “Major League Baseball is so concerned over possible circumvention of the new posting agreement that is has asked Masahiro Tanaka’s Japanese club to provide written assurances it has no side deal with the ace pitcher.”

MLB’s request is in response to comments that Tanaka made after Rakuten announced they would post him this winter. Tanaka told the Japanese media that he plans on “giving back” to the Golden Eagles with financial support and donations. Masahiro Tanaka added he plans on helping Rakuten update their facilities and stadium “to make sure the Eagles are a team the Tohoku fans continue to love.”

Bill Shaikin and Dylan Hernandez reported MLB has sent a letter to Rakuten, via the NPB office, “to ensure Rakuten got no more than the allowable $20 million for making Tanaka available to MLB clubs.” Pat Courtney confirmed a Japanese report to Shaikin and Hernandez that a letter was indeed sent.

According to the LA Times, it is unknown how the Rakuten Golden Eagles will respond to the letter.

Masahiro Tanaka could be looking for at least a five-year, $100 million contract according to a report from Sanspo.com. Tanaka could also require housing, moving expenses, English lessons, an interpreter and trainer.

Multiple reports over the weekend indicated the Yankees are one of many teams that have already contacted Casey Close about Masahiro Tanaka. A report from MLB.com indicated the Yankees will likely wait until next week before making a formal offer.

As previously reported, the Red Sox are in the mix for Masahiro Tanaka. But the extent of their interest has been, and still is, in question. Nick Cafardo spelled out why the World Series Champions should be heavily involved in the bidding for Tanaka in his report.

Nick Cafardo pointed out the Red Sox could use Tanaka due to the fact “they have veteran pitchers in the final year or two years remaining on their deals.” Plus, those pitchers will be coming off the payroll that would give the Red Sox room to add Tanaka.

Reports have indicated the Cubs and Yankees will be the most aggressive for Masahiro Tanaka. But the Dodgers, Angels, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Giants and possibly the Rangers will be involved in the process. The Twins and Blue Jays have varying degrees of interest, but the Phillies are not interested in pursuing Tanaka according to Jim Bowden. The D-Backs’ are willing to fly to Japan to meet with Masahiro Tanaka according to a report on Hardball Talk, a trip has not been scheduled.

Buster Olney passed on comments from Casey McGehee about his former teammate, Masahiro Tanaka. McGehee played with Tanaka last season.

“You could see from day one he’s kind of a different animal. He’s unbelievably competitive. The jury is out on how many pitches he has, but he’s got at least three that are weapons, not just pitches he uses here and there. He can lean on any one of his fastball-slider-split at any time. His forkball is the best one I’ve seen. A lot of guys over there throw one. He’s the one guy that was able to manipulate it and have it do what he wanted. He could throw it for strikes. He could take speed off of it. He could throw it harder. He could bounce it. He was really special with that pitch. Whoever gets him … it’s going to be money well spent.”

News and Notes

According to a report from Korea, multiple Korean teams are interested in signing Suk-Min Yoon if he is unable to catch on with a Major League team this winter. According to the report, the Kia Tigers, LG Twins, SK Wyverns and Lotte Giants are interested in signing Yoon. The Cubs are one of a handful of Major League teams that have been connected to Yoon this off-season. Scott Boras is trying to find him a job with a big league team after the right-hander went back home last week without a contract.

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