This is what the Arizona Diamondbacks have been waiting for. Masahiro Tanaka will be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles after a contentious battle with MLB over the posting fee. It was news that was first reported by the Japanese media outlets Sponichi and Nikkan Sports and then later confirmed by the Kyodo News' Jim Allen.
Arizona desperately needs a front-line ace quality starting pitcher to lead their rotation. This is a potential opportunity for the D'Backs to acquire a 25-year-old stud pitcher, one who might develop into an ace in America.
Tanaka's numbers in Japan last season were stunning; 24-0 record with a 1.27 ERA. Tanaka has been pitching in the Japanese league for seven seasons and has a career record of 99-35 with an ERA of 2.30.
The deal to post Tanaka seemed like it would be in jeopardy from the very beginning after NPB and MLB came to an agreement to modify the posting system to post Japanese players reported in this article from the Japan Times.
The biggest change to the system was the cap on the posting fee paid to Japanese teams. The most teams can bid now would be $20 million, opening the market for almost any team in baseball to make a bid.
Now, any team can bid $20 million for the opportunity to sign Tanaka, even the D'Backs. It's a far cry from the $51.7 million posting fee paid for Yu Darvish and the $51.1 million posting fee paid for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The D'Backs have been linked to Tanaka all winter, stating the player is the number one priority in this tweet by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Arizona general manager Kevin Towers told the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro the team would be willing to sign Tanaka to a long-term deal.
It seems from the very beginning of free agency that Arizona had formulated their off-season plan to chase Tanaka.
The D'Backs face an enormous challenge to lure Tanaka to the desert over other more attractive destinations, including the Yankees. The New York Post's Joel Sherman has a breakdown of the eight teams that will most likely be in direct competition with the Yankees for Tanaka's services.
The D'Backs need to be all in, here.
This can't be a situation where the team talks about Tanaka all winter and then comes up short in the bidding process and say they gave it the best shot. Going back to a free agent starter like Matt Garza would be a tough sell if the team has been lukewarm on signing him to this point.
The starting point for a deal with Tanaka will likely be in the $100 million range, something the D'Backs need to be prepared for. There would be plenty of risk to a large deal with Tanaka, but adding Tanaka to a rotation that already includes Patrick Corbin and potentially Archie Bradley would be much improved over last season.
Arizona can sell the NL West as a better landing spot for the young Japanese pitcher, a division with larger ballparks and no designated hitter to face. The D'Backs have also shown a willingness to travel, as next season's trip to Australia displays in this article by MLB.com's Paul Hagan.
Tanaka would be a huge marketing opportunity for Arizona, one that would increase the D'Backs national and international recognition across the globe.
The opportunity is there and Tanaka can be signed. Are the D'Backs up to the challenge? That's the quesiton.
Information used from Sponichi, Nikkan Sports, Jim Allen/Kyodo News, Baseball Reference, Japan Times, Ken Rosenthal/Fox Sports, Nick Piecoro/Arizona Republic, Joel Sherman/New York Post, Paul Hagan/MLB.com