2013 Stats with Rakuten Golden Eagles
Position Rank: No. 1 starting pitcher
Qualifying Offer: No (ineligible)
Why Teams Want Him
Considering the underwhelming crop of free-agent starting pitchers, Masahiro Tanaka ought to attract a host of suitors.
The right-hander just turned 25, yet he already has seven years of professional experience. The above stats (and his undefeated regular-season record) won't be sustainable in the U.S., but with help from a lethal splitter and great command, Tanaka possesses all the tools to be a front-line starter.
Possible Suitors: Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays
Tanaka must decide on his new team by 5 p.m. ET on January 24th, tweets the New York Post's Joel Sherman. It appears that he'll use the entire 30-day negotiating period to make up his mind (h/t Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times).
Jeff Passan believes we'll see something similar to true free agency, with suitors trying to distinguish themselves by extending generous contract offers. One baseball executive is confident that Tanaka will command more than $100 million, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports, while others directly involved tell USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he'll top $17 million in average annual value.
"The Cubs expect to be part of the process regarding Tanaka," reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, but David Kaplan of CSN Chicago insists that it'll be difficult to get him excited about the Midwest. Then there are the D-Backs, who sources say have dubbed him their No. 1 priority, per Ken Rosenthal, and the Yankees, who have "put all their pitching eggs in the Tanaka basket," according to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York.
ESPN's Jim Bowden adds that the Angels, Dodgers and Rangers are "teams to watch" during the bidding. However, Texas' co-chairman Bob Simpson cautions us that "Tanaka would be a tough thing. We aggressively went after Yu [Darvish]...but at the moment, we're more interested in just rounding out our team than marquee players" (h/t T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com).
Meanwhile, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson tells ESPN New York's Adam Rubin that it's "very unlikely" he'll pursue Tanaka after committing to Bartolo Colon. Per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, the Orioles are deterred by the $20 million posting fee.