New York Yankees Send Scouts to Masahiro Tanaka's Most Recent Start in Japan
Masahiro Tanaka could be the biggest name on the market out of Japan this offseason, and the New York Yankees sent scouts to watch his latest performance, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Seeing as you can't see the entire piece unless you're a subscriber, a write-up can be found on River Avenue Blues from Mike Axisa.
Masahiro Tanaka could be the best pitcher on the market this offseason. Full breakdown of his most recent start: http://t.co/FVfuKy5ExT— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) September 3, 2013
The Yankees weren't the only team in attendance, as Badler reports that the Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox were also on hand to watch the right-hander work his magic.
And work his magic he did.
Tanaka was brilliant in a complete game win, tossing 128 pitches and striking out 11 Nippon Ham Fighters batters. He allowed just two runs in the game.
Badler claimed that Tanaka displayed great command of his fastball and splitter, and sat between 90-94 and 84-89 with each respective pitch. Those numbers don't exactly light up the radar guns, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the major leagues if a club is able to buy him away from the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
It's expected that the team will post him for major league teams to bid on, though the amount it will take to get him is still largely unknown. It took a $51.7 million posting fee for the Texas Rangers to win the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish, but it'd be hard to imagine Tanaka drawing that much. A post around $30 million would make much more sense.
The Yankees will be in dire need of pitching this offseason, so going after Tanaka (even if it means significant money) is worth the risk. Darvish could have been a Yankee if general manager Brian Cashman had been willing to go all-in on the right-hander, and now the team will have to live with the fact that he's been dominant in Texas. This could lead to Cashman being willing to take more of a risk on Tanaka.
With Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte all free agents, it's reasonable to think that the Bombers rotation will look significantly different in 2014. CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova figure to have spots locked up, with David Phelps and perhaps Vidal Nuno having shots at the final two spots.
Sabathia has been far from dominant this season, Pineda hasn't pitched in the bigs since 2011, and Nova still needs to prove he can be consistent. Phelps and Nuno simply don't have enough experience to be considered go-to guys at this point.
Is Masahiro Tanaka worth the risk for the Yankees?
Signing Tanaka would give the Yankees a potentially strong top three if he pans out and both Sabathia and Pineda return to their form from previous years. A productive Nova would further their depth even more.
On the year, Tanaka boasts a minuscule 1.24 ERA with a perfect record of 20-0 over 23 starts. He has seven complete games, two shutouts, 181 innings pitched and 155 strikeouts. In his seven-year career in Japan, he's 95-35 with a 2.32 ERA.
His World Baseball Classic career hasn't been as dominant. He pitched for Japan in both 2009 and 2013, yielding 10 hits and three runs (two earned) in six innings while striking out 10.
Tanaka would be worth the risk for Cashman should he get posted by the Golden Eagles, and the scouts sent over to Japan should have nothing but great things to say about the 6'2" right-hander. He's nearly as dominant as Darvish was in Japan before he made the switch, and the movement on his pitches rivals that of his countryman.
Cashman, go get him.
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