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The Yankees have already spoken to Masahiro Tanaka’s agent

Dec 27, 2013, 3:04 PM EDT

tanaka japan getty Getty Images

Lots of teams are going to be in on Masahiro Tanaka, but the Yankees are moving quickly: Marc Carig of Newsday reports that the team has reached out to Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close.

Close, of course, is Derek Jeter‘s agent, so there’s an existing relationship there. And the Yankees could use a starting pitcher pretty darn badly, so there is certainly a desire. And whether Tanaka signs with New York or not, having them act so aggressively is going to make him an awful lot of money.

  1. shawnuel - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Say hello to the Mariner’s second shocking signing of the off-season!

    • spudchukar - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      One can hope.

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:04 PM

        One can hallucinate, too.

      • tonyz6060chevy - Dec 28, 2013 at 6:14 PM

        One can only hope that the Yankee Brass brought along former Oakland A’s mercenary . Reggie Dog Jackson to the table. to impress the hell out of Tanaka !

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      This may sound like a stupid question but I have to ask, is Tanaka obligated to take the richest contract offer or can he turn down a larger offer from the Royals for a smaller contract from the Yankees because he rather play in New York.

      A lot of people say he is a 2 or 3, could be good for Yanks.

      • dylanthom2013 - Dec 27, 2013 at 7:18 PM

        He’s a true FA in the sense he’s not obligated to sign with any team he doesn’t want to sign with.

        TEX had a 30-day window to sign Darvish after they won the posting contest. No team will be given that exclusive window in which to sign Tanaka.

  2. chacochicken - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    According to my currency calculator, he’s going to make about 12 billion yen.

  3. micknangold - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    They’re just trying to sell more sushi in the ballpark.

  4. cackalackyank - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I figured that NYY has had an offer ready for him since before the end of November. The offer probably got adjusted a bit when Cano went elsewhere, but overall it was the worlds worst kept secret that NYY were going to be aggressively pursuing Tanaka. I do not expect any overnight action here though. My guess is Tanaka will have at least 12 offers to peruse, maybe more. Some of them probably will bet set aside quickly,though. In the end this comes down to probably 3 teams duking it out to the finish.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      Red Sox

      I don’t know if Tanaka is going anywhere other then those teams.

      • cackalackyank - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:20 PM

        I’m mostly with you, but I’m thinking: Yankees, Dodgers ,Angels. If I was going to pick a possible 4th I’d pick Mariners or Cubs.

  5. kcrobert10 - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Ha ha ha your all getting suckered. The royals are going to shock the world sign him.

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      I am in complete shock at this news.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      somebody better shock your brain.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      The Royals only sign mediocre players. Perhaps I am trolling a bit, but the facts back me up on this one.

  6. doctornature - Dec 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    The Mariners have apparently opened the purse for Z to shop, and Cano is not a 1-man gang. I believe their owner thinks he might lose face if he does not land, or at least bid extremely high, for Tanaka. If Iwakuma was Tanaka’s mentor, it might be a selling point between similar offers, as Darvish might be for the Rangers. Yanks, Sox, Cubs, Angels, and who knows how many more want this guy. It could be the most intense 30-day bidding war in history, and I still think he will land more than 200 million. Gonna be fun to watch

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      if he gets 200 million without ever pitching in MLB Kershaw will get at least 350 mil.

  7. uyf1950 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Don’t be surprised if within the next week or so there is an announcement that Tanaka has signed with a MLB club. I do agree with cackalackyank to a degree, but my guess is there are or shortly will be about 5 legit offers to his agent. Then in about a week stuff will start to leak out that Tanaka has narrowed his selection to 3 teams then finally the winning team.

    While I’m speculating just like everyone else here lets take a crack at who I think the initial 5 teams then 2 teams then the last one standing will be. My 5 teams are: Angels, Cubs, Yankees, Nationals and Mariners. Then I think it gets narrowed to 3: Angels, Nationals and Yankees. Finally the last club standing is:

    • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      If I had to guess – and I don’t, so I’m guessing out of my own free will – I’d guess that Tanaka will be offered more than enough money by a sunset side team that he’ll be very tempted to cut the travel time home to eight and a half hours from around thirteen or fourteen.

      Of course, I have ulterior motives here: I don’t want to see a team committed to keeping under the soft cap bust through it and lubricate Scrooge McLoria’s pockets with the pro rata. That thinly veiled ancient sacrificial descent and resurrection ritual is past now, even though the music in the elevators continues to be horrible, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s spite and bile time again.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        While a $100,000,000 or even upwards of that is very impressive. Imagine if one of the teams made their offer in “YEN” doesn’t a bid of upwards of ¥10,500,000,000 that’s billion with a “B” sound a lot more impressive.

      • mikhelb - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:02 PM

        @uyf1950 billions in other non-anglo countries are even more impressive, spanish speaking countries for example use the long scale instead of the short scale, so:

        1,000’000,000 = a US billion = 1,000 millions in spanish

        A spanish billion = 1 million millions.

  8. mc1439 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Hey guys just wanted to say that on some days I use the bathroom more than others, but not too much more. Should I be concerned? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    • xdj511 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      My advice to you is… stop counting.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      lay off the beers and you will go less, or you can wear adult diapers and eliminate going
      to the ” bathroom” and just p when you want.
      keep us posted.

  9. eatitfanboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Tanaka has been the Yankees #1 priority all off-season. And you’d better believe that through Jeter’s agent, they have been swapping figures under the table for months waiting for the posting. Anyone who thinks a team like the Mariners is going to outbid the Yankees on a player they actually want is getting a little ahead of themselves. The Mariners weren’t bidding against the Yankees on Cano, they were bidding against themselves. As for the Japanese “culture” in NYC, Hideki Matsui spent 7 years there and felt completely comfortable without ever even learning to speak english. NYC is the one city in the world where you can be from virtually anywhere (except a US flyover state) and feel comfortable.

    Tanaka to the Yankees is about as sure a thing as there is right now in the MLB free agent market.

    • biasedhomer - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      Just like Dodgers ans saying Tanaka to LA because of the agent connection also.

      • eatitfanboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        Agent: Let’s see….. I can send my guy to a team where I’ve already got the number 1 & 2 starters and let him battle it out with them, thereby decreasing the future value of 2 out 3 of them. Or…..or…… I can send him to the Yankees, where he becomes the undisputed #2 starter behind a guy I don’t represent who has shown signs of breaking down…..

        Hmmm….what to do, what to do.

      • mikhelb - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:06 PM

        @eatitfanboy IF Tanaka signs with the Dodgers remember that:

        a) Greinke is already signed to a long contract (a Close agent);
        b) Kershaw is already looking for a HUGE contract, bigger than the one Tanaka signs, and once Tanaka is signed, it will be the leverage for Clayton to ask for more.

        Tanaka can’t diminish the value of a player in a rotation, but his contract can be used as a starting point.

      • jwbiii - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM

        It’s a fun game to play, but it doesn’t work for two reasons. First, if an agent is accused of malfeasance, and steering a client to a particular team because he has another client there, instead of being the best option for the player, is certainly malfeasance, he becomes as popular as a skunk in an elevator. Have you heard Tommy Tanzer’s name since he settled the lawsuit Matt Harrington filed against him?

        Second, Casey Close is the managing partner of Excel Sports Management, a major sports agency. Major sports agencies have relationships with every team. It’s kind of a fun, but ultimately pointless game to play but:

        Tanaka will sign definitely with the Yankees because Excel represents Derek Jeter, Dellin Betances, and Mark Teixeira (although Scott Boras negotiated his contract).

        Tanaka will definitely sign with the Dodgers because Excel represents Zack Greinke,
        Jerry Hairston (He’s doing TV for them now, but still), and Clayton Kershaw.

        Tanaka will definitely sign with the Astros because Excel represents Dexter Fowler and
        Chad Qualls.


    • biasedhomer - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      Just like Dodgers fans saying Tanaka to LA because of the agent connection also.

      • illuminancer - Dec 27, 2013 at 10:27 PM

        If that’s the case, then Tanaka’s totally going to sign with the Giants because Excel represents Brandon Belt. Also, I had a dream the other night that Sabean convinced him to come to SF, so it’s absolutely going to happen.

    • rje49 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      Yeah, that would make 5 of the top 10 free agents for the Yankees this year. Aw, too bad they couldn’t get them all, huh?

      • eatitfanboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        Nope. They got all the ones they wanted.

    • tbshbt - Dec 27, 2013 at 7:49 PM

      Ummm, he just decided on Close as his agent.

      So, no, they haven’t been “swapping figures under the table for months”

      Get a clue.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 28, 2013 at 8:58 AM

        Well said.

  10. dantheman3323 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Tanakas agent is also kershaws and greinkes agent too. Should we also speculate they have spoken to the dodgers ?? Stupid post

    • eatitfanboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      No, stupid comment.

      Agent: Let’s see….. I can send my guy to a team where I’ve already got the number 1 & 2 starters and let him battle it out with them, thereby decreasing the future value of 2 out 3 of them. Or…..or…… I can send him to the Yankees, where he becomes the undisputed #2 starter behind a guy I don’t represent who has shown signs of breaking down…..

      Hmmm….what to do, what to do.

      • cackalackyank - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        Cliff Lee and his agent disagree with your logic.

  11. gibbyfan - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    I wonder why teams like the Yankees don’t put more dollars into scouting/management so they can actually find and develop their own super stars, you know like Jeter and RC and a couple of others. Can’t help but think of that one scene in ‘ moneyball ‘ when BB was being offered big bucks because he had found a way to win a lot cheaper than the mighty Bosox………That has to mean something to the super egos of ownership.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      the Yankees have good scouts and spend money but the Yankees draft so high they can’t find those super stars, based on a business model it’s just better to go get the best free agents and because of the fan base which extends to Japan they have enough money.
      believe me, baseball people will tell you the Yankees have Gene Michaels and he one smart guy and many other good people in the organization.

      • spudchukar - Dec 27, 2013 at 7:43 PM

        This is plain dumb. Many teams draft in similar positions to New York, and have much better results. Player development seems to be the real Yankee short fall. Either they cannot recognize prospects that are nothing more than AA stars, or their development sucks. Blaming their lack of success on their draft position is another bullhockey excuse by the Borg and their fans.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:47 PM

        @ fanofevilempire, there are many reasons why the Yankees farm system have struggled, to try and lay the blame on one thing is a mistake.
        Yes drafting as low as the Yankees have for as many years as the Yankees have is one reason but not the only reason. Another reason is as sabathia said in his reply the Yankees have for a long time adopted a strategy of high upside/high risk prospects. Another is that up until the mid 2000’s when the Boss was running the Yankees with pretty much an iron hand he placed very little value on the draft. It was buy the best players you can and win at all cost. Another reason is when you have players signed to long term deals like Jeter, A-Rod, Posada and Cano you tend to overlook drafting players for those positions unfortunately in some cases until it’s to late. Then there is the reality that by far the vast majority of all prospects drafted by MLB teams never really make a significant impact in the ML’s. That’s just the reality of it. Yes the Yankees have not done a very good job in particular of drafting starting pitchers, it seems when they make what should be a good pick something seems to go south in the development of that player or players.

        Would it be nice to have a Trout, Kershaw, Goldschmidt or McCutchen in the Yankees farm system sure. But those types of players are so far few in between out of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds drafted. The odds are probably the equivalent of person being struck by lightning twice.

        Have a good day my friend.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:04 PM

      The Yankees for a long time made a strategy of drafting high-upside but high-risk talent, usually high schoolers. With their relatively low picks, instead of taking a prospect who seemed a decent lock to be a #5 starter, they took the erratic kids with #2 or #1 potential. To some extent the strategy made sense for them.,..if they hit once or twice it would make up for the busts, and they have the money to patch holes if they need to.

      Now, I can’t tell you WHY it has worked so poorly for the the last few years, be it bad scouting, bad development, or just bad luck. But they seem to have moved on from that strategy last year, picking some relatively polished college talent who could help the big club shortly in positions of need (3B, pitchers)

  12. rje49 - Dec 27, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    It’s amusing to read all the comments by people who think they know what’s going on behind the scenes, and deciding why this guy would or wouldn’t sign with that team or the other.

    • eatitfanboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      Sorry for having an opinion. I thought that’s what comment sections were for.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        My friend don’t be sorry, you are 100% correct. Have a good day.

      • fanofevilempire - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        ah don’t listen to him, he is just mad Santa didn’t bring him any gifts.

    • rje49 - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:25 PM

      Go ahead and speculate. I just put it all in the same category as pre-game predictions; useless.

  13. irishpatsredsox - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Am I the only one that doesn’t care where this dude goes? I’m just interested to see if he will be a high priced flop. Darvish definitely has proven a stud out of the Japanese league, but has there been really anyone else as dominant? Granted Dice-K and Nomo each had bright moments in their careers, but they had impressive tools in which to work. They say this guys fastball is flat as hell. That’s a lot of dough for a potential HR derby arm.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:15 PM

      you got bad zen man.

    • dylanthom2013 - Dec 27, 2013 at 7:22 PM

      Except he has a ton of pitches aside from his fastball, and his split-finger is his out-pitch and geez is it deadly. He has excellent command of it and can locate it on either side of the plate.

      Darvish throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, but for a huge strikeout guy he doesn’t use them as much as you’d think because he has other effective pitches. Same with Tanaka.

      • tbshbt - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:01 PM

        How often have you watched Tanaka pitch?

      • dylanthom2013 - Dec 27, 2013 at 8:38 PM

        Just the once to be honest – home game @ Miyagi Stadium.

        And ok 3 secondary pitches isn’t “a ton” but still impressive repertoire.


        Mitch Williams looves his splitter.

  14. leylandshospicenurse - Dec 27, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Love how people think the agent has the right to make decisions on where his client will play.

  15. irishpatsredsox - Dec 27, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Can spring training hurry up an get here. I’m finally gettin stationed in New England dammit!

  16. bigdaddy44 - Dec 27, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    As it almost always happens, Tanaka will sign with the team that coughs up the most money, period. The only possible way that an agent connection to other clients, or potential Japanese teammates (I.e. Koji, Tazawa) could sway the deal is if there were two similar offers and no one budged. That is not likely to happen, some team will come up with the extra dough. It’s the Benjamins , not the friendships, that get the deal done.

  17. bigdaddy44 - Dec 27, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    That is, of course, unless someone signs his old tag team partner, Mr. Fuji first!

  18. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    I am sure the Yankees are in on hi,, but not with the same vigor they would have had under the old posting system. The sweet thing for them about the old system was that the posting fee would be high, but would not count toward the luxury tax. Posted players typically had to accept a lower salary to compensate fot the money the team paid to post, so Tanaka would be expensive in total dollars, but cheap against the luxury tax.

    Now that the posting fee is capped, his salary will likely be higher and takes away some of his unique charm for the Yankees management.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      Interesting point. It was widely rumored, since the end of the season, that Tanaka, not Cano or any other Free Agent, would be NYY priority number one. Given the dollars already spent, and even with the potential savings of $ from whatever time A-rod is suspended it seems like it will be a tight squeeze to avoid the luxury tax. However, your logic could play a factor for other suitors that have moved closer to the threshold. The Yankees have the most at stake with the luxury tax, having been perennial spenders, but other teams may not want to go there even once. Tanaka’s unique charm is that he projects as a successful starter that should post the 150-200 innings NYY desperately need and won’t cost another pick. I think the Yankees are going to be pretty darn vigorous, L tax or not.

  19. irishpatsredsox - Dec 27, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Agreed in the repertoire, but I’m still not completely sold on this guy. Darvish seems like he will be formidable for many years to come. The Sox overpaid for Dice-K period, and he signed just one year senior to Tanaka, with an extensive track record in Japan and the WBC.

  20. bostonboresme - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    He’ll sign with either LAA, NYY, or ARI in probably a week or two. 6 years at 21/per is my guess.

  21. bostonboresme - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    And also, IMHO, I think it would just be plain stupid for NYA not to do whatever it takes to sign him. They’ve come this far with FA signings to build a contender, might as well get the best pitching.

  22. kimbrktty - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    All things being equal, Teams like The Diamondbacks, Cubs, Phillies are behind the 8 Ball in this.. because The Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers not only have more money than everyone else, they also occupy the Revered American Baseball teams spots in Japan… Ichiro Ended up in Japan because of their connection to Nintendo Back when he posted… But If you ask Japanese players who they dream of Playing for, Its NYY, Boston, or LAD. One of those teams is going to land him.

  23. kimbrktty - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Seattle *

  24. toddp12 - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Not too mention Tanaka has been Cashman’s biggest project(not saying much) this year AND Tanaka wants to play with his Idol, Ichiro, if he doesn’t get traded first….

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