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Rakuten Golden Eagles will allow Masahiro Tanaka to make the jump to MLB

Dec 24, 2013, 6:25 PM EDT

masahiro tanaka getty japan Getty Images

Some breaking baseball news this Christmas Eve.

Via the translating skills of the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez, Sponichi in Japan is reporting that the Rakuten Golden Eagles have decided to go through with posting right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, allowing him to depart for Major League Baseball.

Rakuten had second thoughts about allowing Tanaka to leave after a new set of posting system rules were instituted this offseason that put a $20 million cap on posting fees. But the 25-year-old Tanaka had already stated a strong desire to jump to baseball’s highest (and richest) level of competition and Rakuten’s higher-ups have ultimately decided not to block his path. Tanaka could have left without permission after the 2015 season, so the clock was ticking anyway.

Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 183/32 K/BB ratio in 212 innings (27 starts) this past summer in Nippon Professional Baseball, is expected to command a major league contract worth more than $100 million through the new posting system — which gives much more freedom and opportunity to Japanese players.

To earn the right to bid on Tanaka, a big league team must only commit a totally-refundable $20 million posting fee. There will then be a bidding war, and some of the wealthiest organizations in the sport are expected to get involved. The clubs that lose out on him will have their $20 million fee returned in full.

For reference, the Rangers paid a $51.7 million posting fee in December 2011 for the right to negotiate exclusively with Yu Darvish and then inked the right-hander to a six-year, $56 million major league deal.

UPDATE (1:20 a.m.): Rakuten Eagles president Yozo Tachibana confirmed Tanaka will be made available.

  1. uyf1950 - Dec 24, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Finally a decision, hopefully. Let the real fun begin now with the bidding process. This could be a real Christmas present for one MLB team.

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      If he is as good as advertised, it would be a Christmas present for MLB.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 25, 2013 at 6:30 AM

        Even if he’s 80% as advertised it will be, my friend.

  2. khmerson562 - Dec 24, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Welcome to L.A.

    • jayquintana - Dec 24, 2013 at 6:55 PM

      This is the perfect moment for him to be posted. Being the sole perceived number one out there, teams are going to break the bank for him.

      • surefooted1 - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:01 PM

        He’s a #2.

  3. tn16 - Dec 24, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    AA you know u want this as a chrismas present

  4. thebadguyswon - Dec 24, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    Anyone but the Yankees or Dodgers

    • gibbyfan - Dec 25, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Sorry bad guy but it will probably be one of those two teams.Only a couple of others will be able to afford it

  5. unclemosesgreen - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    My Christmas wish is that the Yanks sign him for an astronomical sum & he turns into the next Irabu.

    • voidhelix - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:19 PM

      They can`t.

      • m3dman3 - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:36 PM

        LOL explain why they can’t big guy?

      • whatthehellisansky - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        Its funny – people throw $189m around and ultimately forget why its relevant: it all comes down to MONEY.

        The Yanks would love to save some money as well as stop teams like the Marlins and Astros from lining their pockets with addtl revenue sharing cash (which teams over the Luxury tax threshold of $189 pay out).

        But – that contradicts with the Yankees #1 way to make money – put the best team money can buy out on the field, which enables you to charge (and get) $250/seat at Yankee stadium, has more viewers tuning into the YES network (yanks own regional sports TV network for folks not familiar), and presents a chance at playoffs and possibly even world series revenue.

        So the two possibilities contradict themselves – but we must remember what we learned last season: if the Yanks dont field a competitive team the whole money-making machine fails to operate.

        Forget $189m – that was one way to save money. The Yanks need to spend money to make money. Think about it this way – Hal says “Hey if we can get under $189m and reset luxury tax % – great – but there’s no way were putting Brent Lillibridge and Lyle Overbay out there again – that hurts us more in terms of not generating revenue vs. paying out luxury tax does.”

        My bottom line is this: The Yankees simply cannot afford to not get Tanaka. He will get a blank check and we will roll out the red carpet and the Yanks legendary recruiting pitch – which will probably involve Ichiro, Kuroda, Matsui, Yogi, Jeet, Reggie Jackson, etc.

        There the biggest marketing dollars in New York – the most storied franchise in baseball (IMO) – and with the money Cano’s greedy ass saved us, theres no excuse for this guy not to be in Pinstripes next yr.

  6. benrob99 - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    THIS is what the Pirates have been saving all their money for this off season!!

    #Sarcasm

  7. elwaysagenius - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    Please AA, Please.

  8. goawaydog - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Darvish would like to go back to Japan for a re-do posting.

  9. aphillieated - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Phillies please…….but Naaah he’s too young for our team :(

  10. cackalackyank - Dec 24, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Hopefully this is the last we are going to hear about this until we see the list of teams that have ponied up the 20 million to negotiate. I, like most of us, I think, are done with the on again off again stories. Let’s see who’s serious now.

  11. fbwangus8736 - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Coming to the Rangers! He is good friends and a workout partner of Darvish. Would fit in perfectly in that rotation.

  12. markofapro - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Future Angel or Cub

  13. leylandshospicenurse - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    I think the Mets are actually the one team we haven’t heard anything about but makes for an interesting thought.

  14. jjpt4540 - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    This team is the Dwight Howard or flip flopping what a joke

  15. giantboy99 - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Hello Yankees

  16. 27ringsandcounting - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    When trying to figure out which team he will sign with, ask yourself 2 questions: Who is not afraid to spend money and who needs pitching the most? Thats right, the new york yankees. Welcome to new york buddy. Ichiro will meet you at the airport.

    • voidhelix - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:21 PM

      They..CAN`T! Already up t the $189M after arbitrations are secured. The Yankees are thinking Kershaw and Han-Ram in 2015 #NoSSAfterJeter

      • anxovies - Dec 24, 2013 at 11:43 PM

        There is nothing to stop them. They will gladly pay the luxury tax for a quality pitcher.

  17. thebadguyswon - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    Pitching is an organizational strength for the Mets. I can’t see them going after Tanaka.

    My guess is the strongest pursuers will be the Cubs, Yankees, Blue Jays and Diamondbacks. My guess is he ends up with the Cubbies.

    • voidhelix - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      Cubs, Mariners or as an outside shot, the Brewers.

      • cackalackyank - Dec 25, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        Brewers will NOT spend that cash.

  18. thebadguyswon - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    The sense of entitlement most Yankees fans have is exactly why I hope they don’t get him.

    Here’s to a turd in your stocking. Enjoy CC.

    • anxovies - Dec 24, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      The Yankees are entitled because they pay for it. Why don’t you ask your team why it is not willing to pay for better players? The answer? The shareholders keep the money.

      • spudchukar - Dec 25, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        That is a myth that is easily dispelled. Sure their are owners who are cheap, but the luxury tax they receive is a pittance to even the poorest of franchises. The New York area affords the Yankees the opportunity to spend. The largest and wealthiest fan base, great TV contract, media hub of the universe all combine to give the ownership the cash to play with. It has little or nothing to do with how much money an owner has or brought to the table.

      • gibbyfan - Dec 25, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        Way off on that one Anx……..Some teams have like 10 times the cable revenue of others…………..It’s a business and it’s way out of whack competitively.owners are not going to dip into their private funds.

  19. ewampus - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Darvish, Holland, Tanaka, Harrison and Perez sounds mighty nice

  20. sportsguygerald - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Biggest question is, will he be the second coming of Dice K or Darvish?

    • voidhelix - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      I think he`s closer to Dice-K. Gets his K`s from finessing the outside of the plate more than through the heart. Has outstanding command though.

    • jayquintana - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:09 AM

      I’ve never seen him pitch. I just hope that, unlike Dice-K, this guy’s not afraid to attack the strike zone. I’m not even a Red Sox fan and it was infuriating to see him issue so many walks.

  21. m3dman3 - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Awesome now the Yankees get another stud pitcher.

  22. 27ringsandcounting - Dec 24, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    It is obvious the yanks do not care about the luxury tax anymore. The yankees always get who they want and they want tanaka, its as simple as that.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 25, 2013 at 12:37 AM

      Just like we wanted Cliff Lee.

  23. andreweac - Dec 25, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    I bet he ends up costing the acquiring team $150,000,000.00+. 25-year-old front-of-the-rotation pitchers never are free agents.

    Every team in MLB should put up the posting fee. Only the winning team actually has to pay it.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      That is an interesting premise. In reality you are right. At 20 million for the rights to a 1-2 level starter, the NPB should find 30 payments wired into the account to get the right to make an offer. Just my opinion, but we need only look at the list of teams that don’t at least put down the $20 million to talk to Tanaka in order to find out which owners do not really care about fielding a winning team. There is an old saying, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. I think the total cost though will be more like 20 million plus @ 110 million for his deal, not 150+.

  24. randygnyc - Dec 25, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    This is a $20M a year pitcher. Mid 90′s with excellent command. I think the starting offer is at 7 years, $140m. Somewhere around $160M gets it done. Very few can afford that. And of those that can, I’m not sure how many will. This will come down to the 2 or 3 richest teams. No mid level revenue teams are pulling out any surprises. If I was a betting man, I’d be betting on the Dodgers, ugh.

    • NatsLady - Dec 25, 2013 at 7:18 AM

      Nats could afford it, but then would probably trade J Zimmermann instead of extending him. That would be, um, interesting.

  25. doctornature - Dec 25, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    I posted a week or to ago that I believed his contract might go as high as $250 MM for 10 years…lots of thumbs down. We will find out, but not real soon. With Tanaka now having the leverage of the richest teams bidding for him, he is going to cost a fortune.

    Billionaires do not like to be denied whatever they want, and there are some Stinking RICH teams that will be bearing more than Frankincense and Myrrh to his crib. This has all-out -war written all over it, with unbelievable timing after Tanaka’s historic 24-0 , 1.21 and Saving the Japan Series clincher after throwing 160 pitches the day before.

    This is the stuff of legend. Imagine Harper or Strasburg being Free Agents right after college, at 18-21 years old, with the Dodgers and Yanks and everyone else bidding for their services.

    Tanaka has not thrown a pitch in MLB, but has been scouted mercilessly for years just for this occasion, and his talent proven against pros, not college players.

    This is gonna be fun, and I doubt we have a winner until 30 rounds of furious punching between MLB Heavyweights. There are gonna be MANY losers, not just the teams not chosen, but also agents not hired. And don’t you know Darvish is about to fall on his Hari-Kari Sword, knowing he missed out on at least $100 Million by being 2 years early. Especially if Tanaka falls flat on his face, in which case the hatchet is gonna fall on some poor GM’s neck.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:44 PM

      There will be plenty of money flying around to be sure. However, A ten year deal for someone not proven at the MLB level, against MLB talent, on an MLB schedule? Not going to happen. Tanaka is a phenom in NPB, but MLB will be different. Will he do well like Darvish or will he flame out like Dice K after a few good years? Will he become Kei Igawa? Expect a high AAV contract for @ five years, maybe some kind of opt out or vesting options. After talking with posters from this blog and others I personally expect a deal that will allow Tanaka another FA deal at 30 or so. Tanaka is going to get paid, but not necessarily all at once. Look for @ 130 million plus posting fee max.

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