The Masahiro Tanaka derby has picked up with less than two weeks to the deadline for him to sign a contract with a Major League team (Jan. 24, 4:00pm CST). And has been the case all off-season with Tanaka the reports from the mainstream media seemingly contradict themselves on an hourly basis.
Bob Nightengale caused just about every scribe and blogger to race to their keyboard and to their phone in order to check with their sources when he jumped the gun about the Dodgers’ interest in Tanaka. Nightengale reported “the Dodgers have let it be known they plan to go all-out in their efforts to sign Masahiro Tanaka” and they will not be outbid. Less than an hour later, Nightengale reported the Dodgers indeed have interest in Tanaka but he was told they do not plan to “spend wildly” on Tanaka with the Clayton Kershaw extension on the horizon. During an appearance on the MLB Network, Nightengale explained his report and added the Cubs and Yankees are the two teams that could challenge the Dodgers in the Tanaka sweepstakes.
While the news and rumors out of the Cubs’ camp in regards to Tanaka has been extremely quiet, the Cubs are involved in the process and are interested in signing Masahiro Tanaka.
According to a report from Patrick Mooney, “the Cubs are prepared to make a nine-figure investment in Tanaka” due to the fact he fits into the front office’s long-term plan. Mooney also reported the contract Tanaka ends up signing could “get silly and another desperate, free-spending team will blow them away with more years and dollars.”
Casey Close has asked teams to keep the process with Masahiro Tanaka as quiet as possible and not to divulge any information to the press.
The countless meetings were expected to end on Friday. And reports have suggested Masahiro Tanaka will begin cutting down the long list of teams in the coming days. John Shea reported Tanaka would prefer to pitch in one of three cities … Los Angeles, New York and Boston. With 13 days remaining in the process, it would be premature to make any team or any city the favorite to sign Masahiro Tanaka.
Once the dust settles, the Cubs are expected to be one of the six teams left negotiating with Masahiro Tanaka up to the deadline. The Yankees, Dodgers, Mariners and Angels are the other four teams and with the recent injury to Derek Holland that will likely keep him out until the All-Star break, the Rangers should have more interest in Tanaka than they did earlier in the week.
According to a report from Ken Gurnick, the Dodgers are not expected to make a huge push for Tanaka and they are not “nearly as engaged” in Tanaka as they were in Hyun-Jin Ryu. Gurnick’s sources shot down the report from Bob Nightengale. And one of the reasons is that it unclear how Tanaka would “slot into an already loaded rotation.” Gurnick added “the club has been restrained in its approach with Tanaka.”
After Texas inked Shin-Soo Choo, reports quickly surfaced the Rangers were no longer in the mix for Masahiro Tanaka. The Rangers’ rotation was thought to be set, plus Texas has depth in their system. Jon Daniels was on record stating they would not be signing a top of the rotation starter this winter. Even with Daniels’ comments, most felt the Rangers were still players for Tanaka.
New surfaced Friday afternoon Derek Holland underwent knee surgery and he would miss half of the season recovering from the injury he reportedly suffered at his house. Holland fell and damaged his knee cap.
With Holland out and the Rangers expected to play well into October, the questions immediately turned to Tanaka and if the Rangers would step up their pursuit.
Jon Daniels said he will add pitching to the roster but not a front line starter thru free agency.
The Yankees have long been considered the favorite to sign Masahiro Tanaka. After all, they are the Yankees; they have the money and are in desperate need of pitching while adding younger players to an aging roster.
New York designated Vernon Wells for assignment Friday to make room on their 40-man roster for Matt Thornton. The Yankees still have to clear a spot for Brian Roberts, and then there is that little decision about Alex Rodriguez that is expected any day now.
The Yankees have been working to get their payroll under $189 million for the 2014 season in order to save money moving forward with the luxury tax. Joel Sherman is tracking the Yankees’ payroll number for next season and as of Friday afternoon, the Yankees’ luxury-tax tab is $175.822 million … and that number includes Rodriguez’s $27.5 million for next season.
Reports out of New York earlier in the week indicated the Yankees are expected to spare no expense to sign Tanaka and “there is no sense out of Yankees’ camp the team is going to draw any financial line” with Tanaka.
John Gibbons told Shi Davidi that he knows Alex Anthropolous “is feeling around” to see what is going on with Masahiro Tanaka. The Jays’ skipper admitted most teams are probably doing the same.
Toronto has been trying to add a top of the rotation starter all off-season. Anthropolous checked in with the Cubs several times on what it would take to acquire Jeff Samardzija. But Anthropolous is not willing to part with Aaron Sanchez and/or Marcus Stroman and has decided to go the free agent route to add a pitcher. Toronto is a likely destination for Matt Garza if the Jays cannot sign Tanaka and both Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana remain possibilities for the Jays as well.
Davidi reported it is unclear how aggressive the Jays will be in their pursuit of Tanaka.
The White Sox are in “hot pursuit” of Tanaka according to the Sun-Times. The Sox’s front office views Tanaka the same way as the Cubs. Tanaka would fit the Southsiders long-term view and would give them a very good rotation moving forward.
Kenny Williams reportedly made the trip to Los Angeles to be part of the meeting with Tanaka that included GM Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura. The Sox have the money to sign Tanaka as the report indicates and should not be discounted in the process.
Other Tanaka News
While the Angels and Mariners are reportedly very interested in signing Masahiro Tanaka, the beat writers for both teams were relatively quiet on Friday, which means very little. And with Boston being mentioned as one of Tanaka’s preferred cities one would figure the Red Sox’s reporters would be all over the story if it had legs. But they seemed more focused on Saturday night’s Hot Stove Cool Music Concert.
The deadline to sign Masahiro Tanaka is Friday, Jan, 24 at 4:00pm CST … and most feel it will go down to the wire.