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Report: Yankees will be “serious players” for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka

Oct 12, 2013, 3:49 PM EDT

Masahiro Tanaka AP AP

If you haven’t heard of Masahiro Tanaka yet, it’s time to get familiar with him. The bidding for his services is about to get serious.

According to George A. King III of the New York Post, the Yankees are going to be “serious players” for the 24-year-old right-hander this winter as they attempt to fill holes in their starting rotation. The team has done their homework here, as they sent assistant general manager Billy Eppler and scout Don Wakamatsu to watch him extensively this season. It’s safe to say they liked what they saw, as Tanaka went 22-0 with a 1.23 ERA during the regular season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League.

Known for his devastating splitter, Tanaka is widely considered the best pitcher in Japan now that Yu Darvish is in the states and at least one scout thinks that he might actually be better.

“He is better than Darvish because he is a strike thrower,’’ the scout said. “Overall, Darvish’s stuff might be a little bit better, but this guy knows how to pitch. He is like Kuroda, he has a lot of guts. He throws four pitches but when it gets to [stone]-cutting time, it’s fastball and splitter.’’

High praise. Like Darvish, Tanaka would have to go through the posting process in order to sign with an MLB team. The Rangers paid $60 million to secure exclusive negotiating rights with Darvish two offseasons ago and eventually signed him to a six-year, $51.7 million contract. A posting fee for Tanaka wouldn’t count towards a team’s payroll, which is something to keep in mind with the Yankees attempting to stay under $189 million next season.

Of course, the Yankees will have plenty of competition for Tanaka’s services. King hears from one source that the usual suspects like the Red Sox, Rangers, and Dodgers will also be in the mix.

  1. uyf1950 - Oct 12, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    The Yankees need to not let what happened with Igawa scare them away from every pitcher coming out of Japan. As long as they have done their “due diligence” the Yankees need to as they say jump back into the water and their is no better time then now with Tanaka. The Yankees have a desperate need for starting pitching in 2014 and Tanaka’s numbers would seem to support the Yankees taking a run at him.

    Plus ONLY Tanaka’s contract would count against the Yankees luxury tax number, not his posting fee. And a contract offer of somewhere between $8 to $10MM annually certainly fits within the Yankees luxury tax budget.

    JUST DO IT !!!

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 12, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      I always thought the Yanks went after Igawa because the Red Sox signed Dice-K. That was during their one upping each other time period.

      • uyf1950 - Oct 12, 2013 at 5:13 PM

        I think you’re right and it’s my understanding they didn’t do their research before hand.

  2. imthewiz77 - Oct 13, 2013 at 1:03 AM

    Not those Giants…

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