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Red Sox might “quietly slip into” the bidding for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka

Dec 29, 2013, 3:01 PM EDT

masahiro tanaka getty Getty Images

The Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Angels are the major league teams that have been linked most frequently to Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka, who officially began accepting bids last Thursday and will continue to accept them until 5:00 p.m. EST on January 24. But with the new posting system allowing for much more anonymity, there are a number of potential darkhorse clubs. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests in his Sunday notes column that the Red Sox might be one of them:

Should the Red Sox get into the Masahiro Tanaka hunt? The 25-year-old Rakuten Golden Eagles righthander, who was 24-0 in the regular season in 2013, was posted and teams have begun to bid the new maximum $20 million fee. The Red Sox are the least mentioned big-market team, but don’t be surprised if they quietly slip into this. One American League scout suggested it’s the perfect time for the Red Sox to strike. “They have veteran pitchers in the final year or two years remaining on their deals,” he said. “They’ll be clearing out a lot of payroll soon. I know they feel they have good young pitching on the horizon, but Tanaka should be a very good No. 2 or No. 3 starter on any staff. I would think with their emphasis on pitching, they would get into it.”

Given the deep pockets of the clubs involved and the lack of high-impact pitching available on the free agent market this winter, Tanaka is expected to command over $100 million in guaranteed money. The new posting system rules — which allow Tanaka to negotiate freely with all interested teams — will only help that cause.

  1. proudlycanadian - Dec 29, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    The Red Sox do not “quietly slip into” anything.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      The little voice in head keeps whispering to me watch out for the Angels. The Angles are going to win the bidding for Tanaka. It also whispered that the Yankees after losing out on Tanaka will sign Ubaldo Jimenez to a 4 year guaranteed deal for $55MM and they will be glad that’s the way things worked out.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 29, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      What about Crawford? Atrocious contract, but it was damn sneaky.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 29, 2013 at 8:02 PM

        You are correct on both counts.

  2. uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    The more the merrier. It’s only a party if everyone’s invited.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 29, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      I would guess they’re just trying to drive up others’ bids. But I’ve been wrong about pretty much everything this offseason. And regular season. And post-season. And the seasons of the year. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun …

      But I would guess the Yankees outbid everyone. Why wouldn’t they? Tanaka seems awesome.

  3. bigdaddy44 - Dec 29, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    For the Red Sox, signing Tanaka to a big money deal would just drive the price up on Jon Lester, their most important contract going forward. If the Sox signed Tanaka and he delivered on the mound, they may be less inclined to sign Lester. With Doubront, the oft-injured Buchholz (great stuff, but his durability knocks him down to a 4 or 5) and a number of good young starters on the horizon, a # 1 is the most important piece to have in place for the future. Which brings it right back to signing Lester past 2014. They could sign them both, but I don’t believe the Sox would be inclined to tie up about 40 million a year long term on two pitchers.

    • lbush502013 - Dec 31, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      The REDSOX should remember what happened a few years back when they blew a lot of money and it was a big waste , that pitcher was DICE – K , it was supposed to be the greatest pitcher and had one good season and the only good season he had , a big waste of money , don’t take the chance , they already have 6 starting pitchers now .
      Instead of signing him focus on resigning Jon Lester instead !

      • lbush502013 - Dec 31, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        One pitcher won’t win a World Series !

    • lbush502013 - Jan 1, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      That’s if they sign him it cost 20 million just to talk to him , that money would pay a salary for one or two years depending on the player , if Lester wants 20 million a year that would be a free year if they don’t speak with that pitcher.

  4. cackalackyank - Dec 29, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Of course the Red Sox will give it a shot. But a real serious shot? I am not convinced. Part of me feels that at 20 million to negotiate, Tanaka should get 30 offers. In my opinion if you own an MLB franchise, and you want to win, or make it look like you are trying to, you should at least offer the fee and talk to Tanaka. However if the end result is going to be driven by true need and/or highest $, it will come down to NYY and some West Coasters. Like UYF said above, look out for the Angels.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2013 at 4:19 PM

      The Red Sox being a serious bidder for Tanaka would appear to go against everything the Sox Management has professed the past couple of years:
      1st: Signing Tanaka would definitely put the Red Sox over the tax threshold, something they have been reluctant to do the past couple of years.
      2nd: It would require a commitment well in excess of $100MM according to reports, again something the Red Sox have shied awary from after Crawford and Gonzo. Yes they signed Pedroia but that was different they had a history with him.
      3rd: It would require a guaranteed contract of most likely at least 6 years, again something the Red Sox appear to not want to do.

      I think they will be in on the bidding and perhaps hope that Tanaka falls in their lap so to speak but I do NOT think they will be serious bidders for the reasons I’ve stated.

      • theskinsman - Dec 29, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        Of course Boston will be in the mix, they have to make sure the yanks or whoever overpays.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2013 at 4:54 PM

        @ theskinsman, I think you give Boston to much credit in this case. There are plenty of teams that are going to push one another and the price of Tanaka up. There is NO need for the Sox to be in the mix if that is their only goal.

      • cur68 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        Boston might have the best shot at driving the price up, though. With respect to most other clubs, its not going to be hard for competing GMs to say to Tanaka, “Sure. Go take that other team’s offer. That team sucks. You’re never going to the post season”. If Boston makes an offer, then Tanaka can use the old “The WS Champs are on line 2. Care to outbid them, Mr. Cashman?” Boston really can drive the price up like few other teams can.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        @ cur68, I’m not sure I buy that. With quality teams like the Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Nationals and knows who else I think the “Sox effect” is way overblown. i just don’t them being in it just to “bid up the price”.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:35 PM

        correction: I just don’t “buy” them……

      • lbush502013 - Jan 1, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        Why would a team pay 20 million just to drive others teams to pay big bucks , that’s a waste of 20 million with that 20 million just to drive up teams could help pay a player or twos salary depending on who that player is it could go towards resigning Vittorino for a couple of years or go towards Jo Lester signing on for six years the. Instead of 100 million by saving 20 million it would only cost the REDSOX 80 million then !!!!!!!

  5. jeremycmurray - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    just before I saw the receipt four $5820, I did not believe …that…my cousin woz like they say realy receiving money parttime on-line.. there friend brother had bean doing this for only about 16 months and resently paid the debts on their cottage and got a gorgeous Mitsubishi Evo. navigate to this website,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  6. doctornature - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    Iwakuma and Darvish are probably in Tanaka’s ear, at least cluing him in on which parks are pitcher friendly, if his agent already hasn’t. Seattle, Giants, Dodgers, Angels…all pitcher friendly, and close to Japan. I doubt Tanaka would choose the Cubs because of their talent level although rumor says they will not be out-bid.

    Rangers are over budget already so I discount them. Red Sox are iffy to chase him in my book. Yanks will have to out-bid the West Coast teams to get him. If Tanaka has always wanted to be a Yankee like Beltran, the race is probably already over.

    I still think the Dodgers get him, just to keep him away from the Angels. They have the money, even with Kershaw due an extension. But they might go after Tanaka just because Kershaw already turned down the monster offer last summer, and privately think he is going to test FA.

    I put the timeline for first offer made public for Jan 3, and then this is going to get fun.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 30, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      I do agree that Kershaw would seem to be likely to test free agency. Given the crazy $ mediocre guys are getting this year, why not see what can be had as a legit #1? I do not see why the Dodgers would get some one ” just to keep him away from the Angels”, though. They do not compete against each other regularly. Now, if you were saying to ‘keep him away from , the D-backs, Giants, Padres, or Rockies’ that statement would make some sense. Given the $ involved I really see the Angels, Dodgers, Cubs, NYY, and maybe the Mariner’s being the Final 4/5. Iwakuma and Darvish are not likely the only ones that “have his ear”, either. Kuroda, Matsui, and Ichiro san may have put in a word or two, also. It is really going to be about $, and where he might win it all again, soon. The winning it all again soon removes the Cubs and Mariners….and then there were 3.

  7. autmorsautlibertas - Dec 29, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Wishful thinking on Carfardo’s part. His piece is purely speculative and he does cite any “inside” information. Not gonna happen for the Sox.

    The Dodgers are not going to spend money just to spend. Tanaka would be a “4” at best on their staff and why spend 100 million plus when you already have Haren, Billingsly, and Beckett at the bottom of your rotation. It would be a dumb move for the Dodgers.

  8. pastabelly - Dec 29, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Cafardo has no clue. He is battling it with Tomase to see who can write more garbage this offseason.

    The Red Sox first priority with starters is getting Lester’s extension done.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2013 at 6:51 PM

      With a decent 2014 Lester who will turn 31 in January 2015 should be able to get a 6 year $120MM deal if he hits FA. And something close to that even if he gives the Red Sox a small hometown discount.

  9. djp266 - Dec 29, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    The redsox will always be mentioned when a big name free agent is available because they are a big market team always willing to spend if the time is right. Nobody knows anything except Casey Close which everybody will kick the tires with the extremely low posting fee that even the Astros are in the mix. He will want to go to an immediate contender since he did just win it all in Japan so why downgrade? Looks like the Dodgers, Nationals, Yankees and Rangers will most likely be the likely candidates to be in the running near the end. I would add the Tigers but they seem to be content with there starting five plus minor leagues unless they unload Sherzer.

  10. markfrednubble - Dec 30, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    I think most people are missing one key number here: 25.

    There has never been a premier 25-year-old free agent in MLB history. Look at the crazy long-term contracts being done for 30-something free agents, and go back over the past 15 years and tell me if you can find one that wasn’t seriously regretted after a few years (or less). That’s what the Red Sox are trying to avoid — not big long-term contracts, but big long-term contracts for players who are at or past their primes.

    If the Red Sox or any team really believe in Tanaka, then being super aggressive and trying to sign him is smarter than any other big-money free agency gamble, because of his age. Now, scouts seem to be projecting him as a #2 starter, not an ace, and his innings pitched are through the roof for his age, so there are reasons for caution as well.

    I think the Red Sox may well try to be aggressive with Tanaka, to the extent of getting a quick decision at a price they like (I don’t mean a bargain, but maybe the highest bid to that point, if the player wants to play for them). But if they can’t sign him quickly, I doubt very much they will hang in there to try and match teams like the Yankees or Angels or Cubs who are more desperate for pitching.

    As for the luxury tax, it’s not an issue for the Red Sox because they have salaries they can shed (Dempster, Peavy, Lackey) and their long-term obligations are ridiculously low.

    • homergreenz - Jan 2, 2014 at 5:22 AM

      “I think most people are missing one key number here: 25.

      There has never been a premier 25-year-old free agent in MLB history. ”

      I think your premise is a false one. On opening day, Tanaka will be roughly 260 days older than Matsuzaka was on his first opening day in 2007.

  11. steelerfan55 - Jan 2, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    he should not be on the Red Sox mind right now. locking up jon lester should be the most important

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