America is very interested in Masahiro Tanaka, and it turns out the interest is mutual. The star Japanese pitcher Tanaka has told his club the Rakuten Eagles that he wishes to be posted, opening the door for a major league team to sign him as a free agent.
When and if Tanaka is posted – and the Eagles have reportedly not yet made up their minds about doing so – there is expected to be a fierce bidding war for the 25-year-old right hander. Tanaka is not only the best pitcher in Japan right now, he is also the biggest star in the entire country. And I don’t need to tell you how thin the pitching market is in baseball right now. Even Johan Santana has multiple teams after him, that’s how bad it’s gotten.
The posting fee for Tanaka will be capped at $20 million, as per MLB’s new maximum posting fee rule. In the past such fees have reached truly staggering heights, topping out at $52 million when Yu Darvish was put up for bid. Under the new system, all teams willing to post the $20 million may negotiate with the player in question. This should lead to even more intense competition than in the past, when only the highest bidding team was allowed to hammer out a deal with the player.
The Cubs and Diamondbacks are just two of the teams expected to pursue Tanaka if he is made available. The Rakuten Eagles are reportedly trying to persuade Tanaka to say in Japan, but he appears intent on making the move to America. For what it’s worth, the right-hander went 24-0 last year in Japan with a 1.27 ERA and 183 K in 212 IP.