You look at that headline and ponder for a moment. You honestly shouldn’t. There is a real possibility that Masahiro Tanaka could cost the MLB team which signs him – after winning the battle of the negotiations – more than what the Texas Rangers doled out for Yu Darvish.
It’s not hard to figure either.
When the Rangers secured their chance to exclusively negotiate with Darvish, the club owed Darvish’s NPB club an astounding $51.7MM posting fee. Then, there was the contract: six years, $56MM. In total, the Rangers will spend $107.7MM for six years of Darvish.
In regards to Masahiro Tanaka, the posting fee will more than likely be the max of $20MM. Then there’s this…
Team officials involved in Tanaka sweepstakes say the Japanese star will cost a minimum of $17 million a year
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 27, 2013
So if Tanaka gets a six-year deal as did Darvish and we take that minimum $17MM, the contract will be for $102MM. Tack that onto the $20MM and that’s $122MM.
Yes, there are a couple of assumptions attached.
First is that Tanaka will get the same number of years as Darvish. I don’t believe that’s not a stretch either. Darvish was 24 years old when his deal was finalized. Tanaka turned 25 at the beginning of November.
The other is that Tanaka will get that $17MM per year on his deal. I hold the thought that it will be even higher. Maybe as high as $20MM.
And this exercise leads me to this tweet from Keith Law which hit a couple of days ago.
Darvish. Not close. “@Matt_TheNamedor: you may or may not have already answered this, but between Tanaka and Darvish, who's better?”
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) December 27, 2013
So why more for Tanaka, providing the assumptions made here a true, than Darvish? Be too easy to say inflation.
More likely the cost of pitching has risen. We’ve seen Ricky Nolasco snag a four-year, $49MM deal from the Minnesota Twins, Scott Kazmir garner two years and $22MM from the Oakland A’s, and the New York Mets dished out $20MM over two years for Bartolo Colon.
Not that these deals are all bad. Not sure some of us figured these guys would ink a deal for what each received.
And add this nugget. With the posting system changes, it will become a bidding war for Tanaka’s services. No one should expect anything different.
Consider this. Over Darvish’s first two seasons with the Rangers, he’s pulled in $15MM. According to Fangraphs, his value for these same two seasons equals $46.8MM. After only two seasons, the Rangers have “recovered” approximately 84% of the Darvish contract cost and a little over 43% of the total cost in acquiring Darvish.
Now ask yourself: Would you be willing to go higher than $17MM for Tanaka given what this trio was given? If he can perform at levels even remotely close to that of which Darvish has attained, you would say yes.