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Masahiro Tanaka expected to command at least $17 million a year

Dec 27, 2013, 7:43 AM EDT

He’s being posted and the team that signs a deal with him will have to cut a check to the Rakuten Golden Eagles for $20 million. Now Bob Nightengale is hearing about what Masahiro Tanaka‘s salary might be expected to be:


I wonder how much of that is just doing the math on amortizing the $20 million posting fee over years and figuring that around a $20 million per year commitment is where teams want to max out. Figure a six year deal like Yu Darvish received + the posting and you’re just north of $20 million when it’s all said and done.

Of course, I feel like given how bad the pitching market is right now and how many teams there are who could really use an ace, that Tanaka is going to end up getting more.

  1. cur68 - Dec 27, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    All it takes is one desperate, beleaguered GM with a big bank roll and this is going be a mammoth deal. I figure either Rueben “Ruin Tomorrow” Amaroa or Needle Head Ned Colletti (if not both) will be all over their owners for Tanaka-money. Cashman may get the green light to wade into this, too: depends on how his bosses are feeling about Ye Olde Luxury Tax. I think, aside of one or two enormous deals, he’s going to receive multiple offers that look nearly identical, dollar-wise. The crux of it will likely be down to whom he wishes to play for vs. dollar signs. If he gets big money to play for a team he likes or has a connection to (Rangers or Mariners, maybe? He’s friends with Darvish and Iwakuma, respectively) I don’t see how he turns it down.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      Cashman may get the green light to wade into this, too: depends on how his bosses are feeling about Ye Olde Luxury Tax.

      If the Steinbrenners are paying attention to the loss in gate revenue from last year, they need to go all in on Tanaka and say screw the luxury tax. Rumor is they lost $58M in gate last year, and the luxury tax bill was just under $29M. Put a good product on the field, get people back in the seats, and deal with the luxury tax bill later.

      • cur68 - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:32 AM

        Cogent thought on the matter, COPO. Money talks and the notion of luring all that Japanese media attention will surely be a Cashman-Lever into Steinbrenner wallets. So yeah, I guess I see Cashman wading into this in a big way, now. The only thing is the matter of the “Stupid-Money/Contract”. It’s like once or twice/season some team goes all money crazed and does something really dumb. The Mariners seem to be that team this season. Will Cashman want to outbid them for this guy?

        There’s going to be some crazy feeding-frenzy style bidding going on behind the scenes. The details of which should fructify the balance of this month and a goodly portion of the next.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        Unfortunately the Yanks still need another 200 or so innings from starting pitching, which is why I see them going long on Tanaka. If they don’t, I can probably make an argument that the team is worse now than it was last year if they have to replace 185.1 IP of 108 ERA+ ball (Pettitte) with Phelps/Nuno/whomever.

      • m3dman3 - Dec 27, 2013 at 10:31 AM

        They don’t care about the luxury tax. I wouldn’t be surprised seeing them sign Tanaka then go after Ervin Santana as well. You know they were waiting for Tanaka to be posted then spend a ton more.

      • spudchukar - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        Originally I opined that Tanaka would net 130 mil. Now I believe that to be a grossly low number. With reports the Pirates, Mariners, Cubs, Cards and Astros are all in on the bidding I now believe Tanaka will garner 22-23 mil for up to 10 years. The distance between the Japanese star and the next available starter is so large that teams will drive up the market to ridiculous heights.

      • chameleon234 - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        steinbrenners’s plan is not so much to reach the 189m mark to save some money on taxes for the 2014 season year itself, but so itll lower the rates after the 2014 season where they will go all in on kershaw which will definately break the tax threshold. but if they hit 189m or lower it wont be as high tax hit in 2015 because itll reset the luxury tax to a lower rate.

      • anxovies - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:43 PM

        Overall attendance at Yankee Stadium has dropped about 750,000 since the high of 4,300,000 in 2008. This was probably because of the economy and the ticket prices in the new stadium, since the team won the WS in 2009, but dropped a half million in attendance from the previous year. They didn’t “lose” $58M in 2012, they still made a lot of money, but revenue dropped that much from previous years and I think you are right about the willingness to exceed the salary cap for an impact player who will bring the fans in. With the recovery in the economy and the sticker shock having faded by now it makes sense to spend what you need to get more fans in the seats.

      • bigharold - Dec 27, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        “They didn’t “lose” $58M in 2012, they still made a lot of money, but revenue dropped that much from previous years…

        You are correct inasmuch as the Yankees didn’t have a net operating loss but I’m sure they see that as “lost” money.

        Nevertheless, to date Harold Steinbrenner doesn’t live by the mantra of “win now at all cost” to the same degree that GMSlll did in his day. Part of the resetting the luxury tax isn’t merely to save money but not giving resources to ones opponents. Also, if the Yankees don’t get under the cap, then their rate goes to 50%.

        Everybody is dead sure that this guy is going to be great but is he worth the posting fee, $20 mil, plus his salary plus 50%. That could put him in the $30 mil/yrs range for the Yankees. I’m sure what GMSlll’s answer would have been. I’m not as certain that Harold Steinbrenner would have exactly the same answer. Not to mention, .. what happens if Tanaka is the next Matzsuzaka or Irbue? Some GM is going to have “some splain” to do if this guys turn into a $20-30 mil /yr bust.

        Next couple of weeks should be interesting.

    • eatitfanboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      Assuming they don’t have to pay Arod next season, they can afford Tanaka without paying the luxury tax for at least the first year and worry about it later. Either way, I don’t think the Yankees will let that stand in their way. I would be shocked if they allow themselves to get outbid here. They haven’t really made it much of a secret how much they want him.

      • cackalackyank - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        The NYY will be paying A-rod for @ 62-112 games in 2014.

      • eatitfanboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:56 PM

        If they pay him for 62, which is the absolute max- no way Arod gets less than 100 games- they can still pay Tanaka 17M and not hit the tax. Besides, I don’t think it would stop them either way.

    • dakotaandotter - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:59 PM

      you think Amaro will make an offer and Cashman won’t? the Phillies will not be spending any more this year.

  2. sdelmonte - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    There is a voice in my head whispering the words “Dice-K.” Obviously he’s got a ton of potential. But 17×6 seems like a risk for all but the richest clubs.

    • jcmeyer10 - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      Yah, I had the same thought. I suppose the differences are that the Red Sox payed a 50 million (IIRC) posting fee on top of that insane contract.

      Easier to take a chance on a guy when you don’t have to get in two bidding wars.

      • Glenn - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        Six years for 52 million wasn’t really that insane at the time – only 8.5 million per year. With the posting fee, then yes, maybe insane and definitely ended up being a bad idea for the Red Sox.

    • pastabelly - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      Dice-K, for all of his faults, was nowhere near the disaster that should hit the Yankees closer to home in Kei Igawa. Igawa cost the Yankees $125M for five years. Dice-K $103M for six years and helped the Sox win a WS in 2007 (won game 7 in ALCS and a WS game) and was 18-3 in 2008. I would bet that the Yankees nightmares are Igawa sourced. That had to be biggest Japanese failure of all even though everyone brings up Matsuzaka.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 27, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        pastabelly not sure where you got your facts about Igawa but they are way off. The Yankees won the bidding rights for: $26,000,194 and then signed him to a 5 year deal for exactly $20,000,000 a total of $46,000,194 (posting fee and contract) no where near $125,000,000

        Now don’t get me wrong he wasn’t worth even a million of that $46MM but the truth is he didn’t cost the Yankees anywhere near what you’ve said.

      • pastabelly - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:47 AM

        Oops, you’re right. It was five years $20 million and not 20M per year. Still a bigger waste of money than Matsuzaka.

    • eatitfanboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      I would ask your voice what he sees being similar other than them both being Japanese. Dice-K’s numbers are nowhere near as good as Tanaka’s. Why isn’t your voice whispering “Darvish”?

      • sdelmonte - Dec 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM

        Only because I remember how the Sox tripped over themselves to get him and paid far beyond his ultimate worth.

        And because even the best Japanese pitcher is still a rookie in MLB. I think of their leagues as being sort of 4A ball, with a lot of talent but not quite the same as here just yet. Great stats there don’t necessarily mean success here. Never mind the concern that he could be another Mark Prior, which exists with all young arms.

        Besides, I did say it was a little voice. The big voice is saying Darvish.

  3. randygnyc - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    I’ve already said that I’d bet the starting price for Tanaka is $140M. 7 years at $20M per. I wouldn’t be surprised if the final deal comes in at $175M

  4. uyf1950 - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    I honestly believe there will be resolution on this in the 6 year $115 tp $120MM range. Heck to much more then that a team might very well be able to sign 2 of the other 3 major FA starting pitchers on the market: Garza, Jimenez and Santana for the same amount of money.

    I think not only is the media getting carried away with all this Tanaka hype so are some of the “GM’s” polled by them and many of us are as well.

    • doctornature - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      @spudchukar “Now I believe that to be a grossly low number. With reports the Pirates, Mariners, Cubs, Cards and Astros are all in on the bidding I now believe Tanaka will garner 22-23 mil for up to 10 years.”

      Bravo. So far I have posted twice that I believe he will command >10/200-250 MILLION.

      All I got were a lot of thumbs down, which of course I could care less about. It showed me people didn’t believe the numbers were anywhere in the ballpark.

      But 8-10 teams that are cash-rich are looking for WS glory, no compensation pick, a historic season by Tanaka, and the bidding is going to be cut-throat.

      I stand by my prediction. We shall see.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 27, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        My friend I think you posted your reply under the wrong comment.

      • spudchukar - Dec 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        Wrong place or not, I think you are on to something. If any of the “newer” names make a serious attempt to sign Tanaka then 200 mil is possible. The Cardinals inclusion is interesting. They do not “need” Tanaka, they have 10 options on their roster that are better starters than almost any teams’ #4.

        But they have the ready cash, and can play both the “corner the market” game, or simply bluff other front offices higher. And if they would happen to land Tanaka, then that would make all their young arms all the more valuable, a very interesting play.

        But as I said if any of the “outside” organizations make an offer in the $16-18 mil range, then Tanaka will almost certainly eclipse $200 mil because then their will still be the 4 or 5 usual suspects who would have to go 18-20 and then reduce the number to 2 or 3 at 20 and above with the winning bid north of that.

        And since Tanaka is only 25, a 10 year deal actually only helps franchises as it amortizes the yearly amounts, and with Baseball inflation soaring at its present rate by 2023, 22-23 million will be what #4 or #5 guys make.

      • spudchukar - Dec 27, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        …Er.. should read and then THERE will still be…

  5. leylandshospicenurse - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    I’d rather pay the Phillies 20MM and take on Cliff Lee’s contract. There has to be better ways to get top of the rotation arms without signing the mystery guy behind door #1. Kawakami had like an 8 era in AA and gulf coast league before going back to japan and posting an era in the 2’s. Now I’m not saying Tanaka is as bad as Kawakami, just probably not as good as Darvish.

    • senioreditor2 - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      Going to cost you prospects and 25 mil a season to acquire Lee.

  6. chacochicken - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    I’m going to go on a limb and compare Tanaka and his potential contract to a pair of Giants. Judging by his NPB profile the good Tanaka looks like Matt Cain with Cain’s team friendly extension whereas the bad version might be Barry Zito’s lengthy and expensive overpay.

  7. senioreditor2 - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    I think 17 mil is the starting amount. I’m guessing 140+ mil for 7 years is more likely. Although once he’s off the market, Garza and company will seem like a bargain.

  8. andreweac - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    And in other “news” Tim Tebow is still not on a NFL roster…

  9. lessthanthreeefc - Dec 27, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    I don’t get why his asking price is so high, he plays in Japan, which isn’t nearly the same quality as MLB. I’m betting he goes 17-10 with a 3.50 era his first two seasons. Which while not terrible, isn’t worth that much money. Then again the leagues gone crazy so what do I know.

  10. markofapro - Dec 27, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Will sign with Astros

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