The Daily Tanaka: Let the Bidding on Masahiro Tanaka Begin

According to reports out of New York, Casey Close is back from vacation and the bidding on Masahiro Tanaka is expected to begin this week. And teams should receive clarity on how much it will cost to sign Tanaka in the coming days.

The Yankees are expected to spare no expense to sign Tanaka. Ken Davidoff reported “there’s no sense out of Yankees’ camp the team is going to draw any sort of financial line” with Tanaka. The Yankees are desperate for pitching and are looking for a top of the rotation starter. Davidoff explained the Yankees are not “loving” the likes of free agents Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana and they do not have the prospects to trade for a starter like David Price.

Andrew Marchand reported the Yankees have not made “significant contact” with Casey Close “but that is expected to change soon.”

The Mariners are seen as a legitimate threat to sign Masahiro Tanaka out from under the Yankees. Many see Seattle as being the frontrunners, but it is too early and too much is unknown at this point to declare anyone a favorite to sign Tanaka.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Mariners are “weighing a number of options” including Masahiro Tanaka, David Price and Nelson Cruz. But Seattle’s front office has “to persuade ownership to keep pressing forward.”

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper addressed where Masahiro Tanaka would rank on different teams’ prospects list. Cooper said it would be easier to “list the teams where Tanaka wouldn’t jump to the top of the list.” Cooper indicated Tanaka would rank as the top prospect in 27 of the 30 teams with only the Twins (Byron Buxton), Red Sox (Xander Bogaerts) and the Cardinals (Oscar Tavaras) having players in their system that would rank higher than Tanaka. Baseball America included a scouting report on Tanaka in this year’s Prospect Handbook and gave him “one of the highest grades in the book.”

Bernie Pleskoff took a look at The Tanaka Sweepstakes and he thinks Tanaka signs with the Yankees but he would not count out the Blue Jays “doing whatever it takes to get Tanaka.” And Pleskoff reported he sees the Blue Jays putting on “a full court press” for Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or even Matt Garza if they fail to land Tanaka. Garza does make sense for Toronto, especially with Dioner Navarro signing there earlier in the off-season.

But what exactly is Masahiro Tanaka looking for? Is he looking for the biggest contract? Is he looking to be the number one pitcher on the team he signs with? Is he looking to play on the West Coast? Or for the team he once visited in the Bronx as a teenager? The New York Post spoke with one scout that is not sure and teams “have to find out how much he’s looking for and what he wants from a team.”

The contract Masahiro Tanaka is expected to sign will be huge (at least six years and $100 million, plus the release fee) and reportedly there is concern throughout the league about his workload.

The New York Post reported a “fierce bidding war is expected.” Teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Angels that can afford him should be in the mix until the deadline on Jan. 24 at 4:00pm CST.

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