The Masahiro Tanaka Derby is Coming Down the Backstretch

While the speculation continues on which team will land Masahiro Tanaka, one thing is certain. By 4:00pm CST on Friday the daily Tanaka watch will be over.

Reports suggested Masahiro Tanaka would make a decision by end of business on Wednesday because the team he agrees to terms with would need time to conduct a physical before finalizing the contract. Since the beginning of the process, there were rumblings that Casey Close would take the Tanaka derby down to the deadline in order to find the best deal, and situation, for his client.

Masahiro Tanaka took a physical while he was in Los Angeles in order to provide teams that were interested in signing him the necessary medicals. As of this writing, which is just before 2:00pm on Wednesday in Japan, Tanaka was still in Japan with plans to fly back to the States at some point by the end of the week.

Jayson Stark reported Tuesday afternoon he was hearing the Tanaka decision could go all the way to Friday’s deadline. But multiple reports were consistent about the winning team requiring a physical with their doctors. According to Ken Rosenthal, the team that lands Tanaka cannot include a contingency in the agreement he must pass a physical before the deal would become official.

The Cubs are rumored to have the biggest offer on the table for Tanaka both in terms of years and dollars. And while reports suggested Tanaka was deciding between the Yankees and Cubs that does not appear to be the case. The Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers and Diamondbacks remain in the mix and there is simply too much time left in the process to count any team out of the running for Masahiro Tanaka. Joel Sherman reported Tuesday, the White Sox, Angels, and Mariners “are viewed as legitimate suitors.” The Astros are also interested in Tanaka according to Houston’s owner, Jim Crane.

As for what signing Tanaka could cost the Cubs, Jeff Passan reported “one official involved in the Tanaka bidding believes the winning contract is going to fall somewhere in the six-year, $120 million range” plus the $20 million release fee. And Bruce Levine is hearing, Tanaka is looking at a six or seven-year contract worth more than $20 million per year. Then there are the terms of the contract and Casey Close is believed to be insisting on Tanaka’s deal including an opt-out clause.

David Kaplan quieted the report of possible blind binds taking place for Tanaka. Kaplan indicated Tuesday night, “teams can increase offers” until Tanaka makes a final decision.

Once Masahiro Tanaka agrees to terms on a contract, the other free agent starting pitchers should sign, which will make the last week of January rather busy throughout baseball.

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