Koji Watanabe/Getty Images
Many MLB teams are interested in Tanaka, but the usual suspects are tabbed as the favorites.
Rumor: Masahiro Tanaka's decision comes down to the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers.
If the rumors are true, the battle for Japan's Tanaka will be fought between the Evil Empire and the Death Star.
Per The New York Times' David Waldstein, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers have emerged as front-runners to sign the 25-year-old free-agent pitcher. Waldstein added that Tanaka's wife would prefer to reside on the West Coast, which bodes well for the Dodgers.
It's certainly possible that Tanaka lands with one of those two big spenders, but don't eliminate everyone else just yet.
The Seattle Mariners proved they're not afraid to open up their checkbook when they outbid the Yankees for superstar Robinson Cano. Teams that shell out $240 million for one player typically are not content with winning 80 games, so the Mariners are hungry to make another splash.
If Tanaka truly prefers the West Coast, we can't rule out the other team in Los Angeles. Although piling up the payroll even further is not the wisest move for the Angels while Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Jered Weaver soak up the club's financial resources, the franchise might be crazy enough to throw caution to the wind.
The new proceedings also open up the competition for Tanaka, as the willingness to pay a $20 million bidding fee now replaces the capless posting fee that cost the Texas Rangers $51.7 million to negotiate with Yu Darvish.
There's plenty of other suitors tempting Tanaka with barrels of cash that'd make Walter White blush. According to Mooney's report, the Cubs are also prepared to offer him a nine-figure salary.
The Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez relayed a story from Sports Hochi (a Japanese outlet) listing the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels as the three remaining candidates, but Hernandez also advised to take the story "with a grain of salt."
Money talks, and one cannot forget the magic of the "mystery team" that so often pops up when we think we figured everything out. There's still time for interested clubs to add some millions of dollars to their proposals.
This race is too wide open to label this as strictly a two-team contest.