If you were to pencil in the Yanks’ starting rotation for 2014, it would be CC Sabathia, coming off a leg injury, Ivan Nova and a bunch of question marks. Reports have surfaced that New York will pursue Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka finished the Japanese season a perfect 24-0. (Did the Japanese version of Brian Kenny mount a #KillTheWin campaign against him?) The 24-year-old posted a 1.24 ERA and helped the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles win the Pacific League. Some have already called him the best free agent pitcher on the market.
George King reports in the New York Post that the Yankees will try to gain the services of Tanaka. The posting fee wouldn’t count against the $189 million luxury tax threshold, which would be a boon for the club.
Based on several executives’ opinions, the posting price to the Golden Eagles will be in the $60 million range. If the team accepts the bid, the winning team has to sign Tanaka to a contract. If they can’t reach a deal, Tanaka goes back to the Golden Eagles.
A big plus for the Yankees, whose goal is stay under $189 million next season, is the posting fee doesn’t count toward a team’s payroll. However, the contract does, and it could be five years for $60 million.
The Yankees track record of signing players from Japan is checkered. The late Hideki Irabu became a punchline after George Steinbrenner labeled him a “fat pussy toad.” Lefty Kei Igawa is one of the worst signings in MLB history, earning $20 million from the Yankees to post a 6.66 ERA in 71+ innings in the majors. On the other side, outfielder Hideki Matsui was a rousing success and beloved by the Bronx faithful.
The Yankees have been oddly quiet on the Cuban import front, allowing players like Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig to sign elsewhere. Perhaps pursuing Tananka bucks that trend.