Home Column Free-Agent Hot Stove Opinions Tanaka Yankees must finish the job by signing Masahiro Tanaka
Yankees must finish the job by signing Masahiro Tanaka
Thursday, December 26, 2013
When the Yankees missed the playoff in 2008, they went on a massive spending spree -- picking up CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett and Nick Swisher -- then won the World Series the very next season.
Same thing happened in 2013 -- the Yankees missed the playoffs for just the second time since 1994, and now they have spent over $300 million to add Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. But it's not enough to replicate the 2009 success. No, the Yankees won't have done their job this offseason if they don't finish the job and sign Masahiro Tanaka, whose posting process began Thursday morning.
Coming into the offseason, many had said that if re-signing Robinson Cano was priority No. 1 for the Yankees this winter, then signing the Japanese right-hander was No. 1a.
Now that Tanaka has been posted -- following a long back and forth with his club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, over whether or not they would even post him after the new posting system agreed to a couple weeks ago set a $20 million bidding limit, far less than Rakuten expected to bring in for Tanaka -- he's the best free-agent on the market, and the Yankees are ready to go all in on him.
Of course, they won't be the only team bidding for his services over the next few weeks. The Chicago Cubs are also expected to throw everything they have at him. The Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels have shown interest, along with the Boston Red Sox.
At 25 years old, Tanaka would be a big upgrade in the Yankees' rotation for several years. He went 24-0 in Japan last season with the Golden Eagles, posting a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings, leading Rakuten to the NPB championship.
He's a much better option for the Yankees' rotation compared to the other top free-agent pitchers -- Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana -- who the Yanks have shown very little interest in.
The Yankees scouted Tanaka heavily over the past year, and they really like him a lot. Many scouts say he has the ability to be as good as Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish, who came to the big leagues from Japan in 2012, and many think he's the kind of guy that will change a rotation for many years.
Right now, that's what the Yankees need in their rotation -- a game changer. Entering the new year, only Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda are sure things in the rotation for next season -- and even then, you don't know what you're going to get from Sabathia and Nova, but you can only hope they put together good a good season.
Adding a David Phelps and Michael Pineda in the backend of the rotation wouldn't be awful, but it might not be enough for the Yankees to take down two of their AL East counterparts, the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.
Boston had a great year in 2013, obviously, winning the World Series, and they have put together a team that can do the same thing next season, while the Rays are always putting together a talented, albeit, cheap roster, with a starting five that can withstand any test.
Put Tanaka into the Yankees' rotation, and suddenly they look pretty dangerous with another solid season from Nova, and a much more adapted Sabathia.
It's also worth noting that the Yankees, assuming they stay healthy, will have enough firepower in the lineup to get back into the playoffs in 2014, but whether or not they contend for a division title will depend on what happens with Tanaka.
At this point, even with Alex Rodriguez's suspension being upheld for most or all of 2014, the Yankees don't have a very good chance of getting under the self-imposed $189 million luxury tax threshold. The bidding for Tanaka is expected to get pretty intense, and many people within the game expect him to get a deal within the $100-$120 million range, at least.
They've come this far to spend the funds necessary in getting them back into October, but now they must finish the job and land Tanaka, no matter the price.
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