The Masahiro Tanaka saga continues to take twists and turns as the 25-year-old Japanese sensation told his team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, that he wants to pitch in the major leagues next season. While president Yozo Tachibana said he’d honor Tanaka’s wishes of leaving for the states, he’s reportedly trying to convince him to stay in Japan for at least another season.
Under the new posting system, teams willing to bid on Tanaka pay a $20 million “release fee” in order to negotiate directly with him. While it’s likely that most major league teams will pay the fee for Tanaka, Buster Olney of ESPN says that he might already have a preference as to where he wants to play:
If it is accurate that Tanaka prefers to play on the West Coast, then the Dodgers and Mariners might have an advantage beyond their available dollars.
Of course, Tanaka could change his mind and follow the money if a team like the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers or Chicago Cubs offers a ridiculous contract, but it’s hard to believe the Dodgers when they say they only have “lukewarm” interest in signing him. If signed, he’d be the Dodgers number three or four starter, while other teams could offer him a number one or two spot in the rotation.
With Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley coming off the books after the 2014 season and Dan Haren needing a strong season for his option in 2015 to vest, the Dodgers would then find themselves with just three starters next off-season.
For the past few weeks, GM Ned Colletti said the Dodgers aren’t likely to chase another high profile starting pitcher this off-season, but seemed to change his tune earlier this morning on ESPNLA 710:
There’s some chance to that. Some dynamics we aren’t aware of. You kind of pointed to a couple of them there and that’s accurate. We’ll see.
It isn’t known how close the Golden Eagles are to making a decision about posting Tanaka, but if he wants to play on the west coast and the Dodgers are interested, it’s hard to see Colletti and company passing up the chance to sign him.
ICYMI: The Dodgers and J.P. Howell agreed to a two-year deal earlier this week