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Tanaka would give quality depth to the Yankees rotation
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Yankees are interested in Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka is perhaps the most sought-after pitcher potentially on the free-agent market this offseason.
The right-handed hurler features a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan last season.
With the Yankees rotation up in the air (only CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are assured spots), Tanaka figures to be one of the team's priorities.
Besides Tanaka's fastball, he also showcases an above-average splitter and has evoked comparisons to Hiroki Kuroda.
He doesn't give up many home runs and in 2013 yielded just six round-trippers in over 200 innings pitched. With Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch, that is a quality the team requires.
Should the Yankees somehow manage to land Tanaka, he immediately gives the top of the rotation depth that it sorely needs. With CC Sabathia coming off the worst season of his Yankees tenure and Ivan Nova yet to prove consistency over an entire year, the team sorely needs another arm to legitimately contend.
In theory, Tanaka gives it that arm.
Recently Major League Baseball has been attempting to negotiate changes to its posting system—the process by which MLB teams may bid for the rights to offer contracts to foreign baseball players. The recent failure in those attempts may mean that Tanaka is not available to MLB clubs.
That certainly throws a wrench into the Yankees' plans.
In addition to his availability, there will always be questions as to whether a pitcher's success in Japan translates to success in MLB. The Yankees, perhaps more than any other team, know what it is like to throw millions of dollars to a Japanese star pitcher only to see him fall flat on his face in the States. One only need to look no farther than Kei Igawa (13 big league starts over two seasons with a 6.66 ERA) to realize that Tanaka is no sure thing.
As mentioned, Yankee Stadium has a short right-field porch and often sees what are long fly balls in any other park ending up as souvenirs for lucky fans. Successful right-handed pitchers are few and far between in New York.
Only time will tell if the Yankees can land Tanaka and whether he will have success at the Major League Baseball level, but if allowed to, you can be sure that the Yankees will make a strong play for him.