Looking to address a glaring need in their starting rotation it’s becoming apparent that the New York Yankees will be aggressive suitors for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka this winter. Tanaka has done nothing but wow scouts this past season and he is arguably the best pitcher that might be available this winter (that New York could conceivably obtain, read: not David Price).
Tanaka went 22-0 on the year with a 1.23 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, helping lead the team to the Pacific League Championship. He’ll turn 25 on November 1st, the earliest date that Rakuten can formally post him as Tanaka is not a traditional free agent. If the Japan Series ends up going a full seven games then that will be pushed back to November 3rd.
New York’s interest is certainly understood. The team has multiple openings in their starting rotation with the retirement of Andy Pettitte and impending free agency of Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes. Hughes is unlikely to be re-signed, but it’s believed that the team wants to bring Kuroda back for at least one more season. CC Sabathia is still under contract but he can’t carry the team on his own as age continues to catch up to him. Lingering health questions remain for the team’s depth – namely Michael Pineda and Manny Banuelos.
New York needs to make a move when it comes to their starting rotation and Tanaka is certainly an option that would make a splash. They’ll be far from the only team involved. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox all reportedly scouted him in September. Other teams have also been rumored to be in the mix.
Tanaka could end up costing more in total (posting fee plus contract) than Yu Darvish cost the Texas Rangers when they acquired him. The NY Post’s George King has heard rumblings that the posting fee could be close to $60 Million and he suggests a five year, $60 Million contract might be necessary to get Tanaka to sign.