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The Mariners could add intrigue to the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes

Jan 4, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

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Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka will be courted by a handful of interested teams, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Diamondbacks, but as ESPN’s Andrew Marchand details, it may be the Mariners who emerge victorious by the January 24 deadline.

Marchand cites some reasoning laid out by Dan Szymborski also at ESPN — that Seattle has been a comfortable place for Japanese players in the past and that the team still has money to spend. Marchand adds that Seattle would be closer to Japan than any other location, and that current Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma was previously a teammate of Tanaka’s with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

The Mariners were expected to make at least one more noteworthy move after signing Robinson Cano to a ten-year, $240 million contract, such as trading with the Rays for David Price, or signing free agents Nelson Cruz or Matt Garza, but nothing has materialized other than adding Logan Morrison and Corey Hart. Adding Tanaka would make them a legitimate threat in the AL West.

  1. allidoiswin55 - Jan 4, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    I think mariners will get this done they had Ichiros corner and seats were always sold out in the section full of Japanese tourists with the teams desperate to get buzz and butts in the seats this should happen and will show is Seattle fans the team is done putting out farm league talent . We need pros who are ready to play not build up players to trade to the Yankees and red soxs and such ..

  2. dondada10 - Jan 4, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    Makes a lot of sense for the Mariners. Imagine if they sign Tanaka and trade for Price.

  3. shawnuel - Jan 4, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    No way they trade for Price if they get Tanaka. Pick between Taijuan Walker/James Paxton/Erasmo Ramirez for 4 and 5 starters or go cheap and pick up a Chris Capuano type for a year. If they trade, get an OF who can play the field and hit.

    • joenash72 - Jan 4, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      Agreed, don’t trade for Price if able to sign Tanaka. Hopefully then trade for Matt Kemp, as has been rumored. Maybe a package of Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Dustin Ackley and take-on all the $$$$ owed in Kemps contract.

      That would give Mariners Felix & Tanaka 1 & 2 in the rotation. Cano & Kemp batting 3 & 4.

      Besides the added Japanese tourism/ticket sales, would also benefit the TV ratings. Important because M’s now own their own network.

      • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:00 PM

        Wrong. With no place to play Franklin, or Smoak (not that he is much of a trade piece) and Walker or Paxson and perhaps Ackley, they could land Price and have the best rotation in the Bigs.

      • lostsok - Jan 5, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        I’m a Dodger fan, and have long argued that IF Kemp were traded Seattle would be a solid destination. I suspect LA would eat money, and the price would be either Miller or Franklin plus a package of other picks.

        Seattle won’t trade Walker for Kemp. As a Dodger fan, I’d love it…but there’s a zero chance of it happening. Maybe less! :-)

        Paxton unlikely, but at least conceivable…but more like Furbush. LA needs/wants deeper left-handed relief options. A next-tier prospect like Pike could be involved.

        I doubt any of this gets looked at until Tanaka is decided. If LA were to sign him, I could see Beckett included in a deal to Seattle, too.

      • joenash72 - Jan 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM

        Lostsok, Ya I agree that it likely would not require Taijan Walker in a deal for Matt Kemp, especially if Seattle took on Kemp’s entire contract. But even if Dodgers insisted on Walker, I think Seattle needs a bat like that badly enough that we’d have to consider it. Maybe in some sort of large package deal including Beckett, like you mentioned.

        Not that Jack Z would read this thread and consider my idea.

        Actually, after reading that article by Geoff Baker in Seattle Times last month, maybe he will ;-)

      • jdillydawg - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:24 AM

        I think the Dodgers should trade for Seager. He’s a player.

        But Seattle only starts winning when they change ownership. I’m still convinced they could hire all Marvel Superheroes and still wind up in the cellar. I love Seattle, but like a drug addict, I’ve come to set my expectations very, very (very) low…

  4. markofapro - Jan 4, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    Tonka truck goes to Yankmees; Cruz and Garza sign with Mariners. Mariners still finish last. You heard it here first, sports fans.

    • nymets4ever - Jan 4, 2014 at 8:53 PM

      The only thing anyone heard first was your utterly stupid nicknames for both Tanaka and the Yankees…

      • dcarroll73 - Jan 5, 2014 at 12:57 AM

        Great material, nymets4ever! Who writes it for you? By the way, your ‘handle’ seems to be a clever shorthand for a Q-and-A:
        Expected time between championships for the ‘nymets’? ‘4ever’

    • jwbiii - Jan 4, 2014 at 9:10 PM

      The Yankees don’t have the salary cap space unless Rodriguez is suspended for the full season. We should hear about that fairly soon.

      • rje49 - Jan 4, 2014 at 9:48 PM

        Um, there is no salary cap in baseball.

      • joenash72 - Jan 4, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        No salary cap, but Yankees are up against the luxury tax. Arod situation will be big factor. Also, no state income tax in Washington state another advantage for the Mariners vs. many other teams.

      • spudchukar - Jan 4, 2014 at 10:54 PM

        Plus pot is legal.

      • jwbiii - Jan 5, 2014 at 12:25 AM

        rje49, The NBA has what they call a salary cap. If a team’s payroll exceeds this amount, it has to pay the league. These monies are distributed among the non-tax paying teams.

        The MLB has what they call a competitive balance tax, but is commonly known as a luxury tax. If a team’s payroll exceeds this amount, it has to pay the league. These monies are distributed among the non-tax paying teams.

        You are welcome to try to explain the difference to me. If you are able to do this, I will no longer refer to MLB’s policy as a salary cap. Here are the resources you will need:

        http://www.nbpa.com/cba/2011
        http://bizofbaseball.com/docs/2012-16CBA.pdf

        The relevant portion of the NBA CBA is Article VII. The relevant portion of the MLB CBA is Article XXIII. Good luck, have fun.

        joenash72, There is a difference in state taxes, but it’s not as large as you might think. Players and other entertainers pay state taxes where they work, not where their employer is located or where they live. For a $20m contract, the difference between playing for the Yankees (high tax state) and the Rangers (no tax state) will be about $900k for 2014. I cut a lot of corners here, I know that*. I figured this for the Yankees’ schedule vs. the Rangers’ when Choo was signed. There’s not much difference between the Rangers’ schedule and the Mariners’, so the difference should be about the same.

        * For one thing, all states which have baseball teams and state income taxes have graduated tax rates except Illinois and Massachusetts. I used the highest marginal bracket for each state. A Yankee making $20m would not be in the highest bracket in California, unless they were to play an interleague series there.

      • dcarroll73 - Jan 5, 2014 at 1:13 AM

        joenash72, I think the Yanks have already ‘telegraphed’ that the luxury tax issue is a ‘nice if it works’ but not something to stop the team from a major acquisition (much as I would love to stop this dole to deadbeat owners like Loria.) Other posters have pointed out that lost gate revenue last year was more than (twice?) the luxury tax amount so I doubt the tax will stop them. It depends on whether another team goes nuts. The risk here is that for most teams a huge contract that turns out to be an albatross is a disaster for years (Seattle, in case nobody has told you yet, you’ve ALREADY preloaded a disaster – Robbie is fine, but TEN?!?? years for that money? There is a reason why the Yanks passed.) For the Yanks, they say, “oh (expletive deleted)!” as Nixon would, and they just move on to the next gamble. To turn around another poster’s comment, “Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid,” and I would add, “Prepare to be assimilated.”

      • joenash72 - Jan 5, 2014 at 5:46 AM

        That’s great that the Yankees “telegraphed” that they’d like Tanaka. But this is a “New World Order” time in MLB. George Steinbrenner may have pioneered taking advantage of having more TV revenue than everybody else, but those days are gone, along with George. Look at what the Phillies announced today. Look at what Texas and the Angels have been doing, division rivals of Seattle. Every team is cashing in, and most, unlike Loria, are using the George model of “spend $$$ to make $$$.”

        Making the commitment to Cano does not work by itself. Seattle needs more bats. By signing Tanaka rather than trade for Price, maybe they trade for Matt Kemp, as I mentioned in previous post. Maybe it allows them to trade the farm for Giancarlo Stanton, something I saw mentioned in the comments on that ESPN article this blog post is based on.

        This is all Hot Stove talk. Maybe the Mariners don’t make any of these moves. But regardless of what Seattle does, the days of the Yankees just outspending everybody else are over.

      • ewyorksockexchange - Jan 6, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        jwbiii-

        The biggest difference between the NBA soft cap/luxury tax system and the MLB luxury tax is that the NBA soft cap prevents non bird rights free agents from signing with a team for more than the MLE, although you can still sign players to the veteran minimum. In the NBA, in other words, you can only go over the cap to resign your own, tenured players. It is essentially a barrier to runaway free agency, and the soft cap is relatively low compared to the size of the max contracts (another thing the MLB does not have). Up until the last CBA, there was in fact a hard cap, but this has been replaced by a very punitive tax system.

        Baseball’s tax system has a very high threshold, which impacts far fewer teams than the NBA’s cap system. It also does not affect the ability of teams to sign free agents outright. As long as you are willing to pay the tax, you can have as high a payroll as you like, and can afford.

        These two systems are quite different.

        Also, the NBA luxury tax line is above the soft cap. It’s not like you immediately begin paying tax when you exceed the cap.

    • johnnysoda - Jan 4, 2014 at 9:18 PM

      Unless the Mariners somehow get 30 games worse despite adding Cano, that won’t happen. And as much as I would love to see the Yank”ee”s get Tanaka, I’m not too confident.

  5. seattlenative57 - Jan 4, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid (BABVA)

  6. chill1184 - Jan 4, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    Hell when you give Cano the money truck, your pretty much in “Why the F#&! not…?” mode. A rotation with him and King Felix would be interesting to watch

  7. dirtyharry1971 - Jan 4, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    If a player Hates playing in October, then he will LOVE playing in seattle cause they cut their seasons early just like the bluejays do

    • Reflex - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:11 PM

      Yeah, just Seattle, Toronto and the Yankees seem allergic to the postseason lately…

      • uyf1950 - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:22 PM

        By lately I guess you mean 1 season at least in the Yankees case.

      • Reflex - Jan 5, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        Its Harry. Hyperbole deserves hyperbole.

  8. martysnooks - Jan 4, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    Let’s calm down. You’d swear he was the second coming of Walter Johnson. Dice-K tore up the Japan League also.

  9. pyleketerson - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    This might have been news a month ago.

  10. martysnooks - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Yes, it worked out great for the phillies a couple years back :-/

  11. uyf1950 - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    So far the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and now the Mariners have been the lead horse in where Tanaka will sign by the so called “sports media elite”. If that doesn’t tell all of you that these guys don’t have a clue, nothing will. Of course throw enough teams out there as to where Tanaka will land and at some point one of these guys will be right purely by accident.

  12. pyleketerson - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    I know this is a fairly rare case, but wouldn’t most agree that in general baseball and free agency has become pretty ridiculous? I grew up a die hard fan, played in college, but have really lost interest in the game in recent years. The professional level has become a merry-go-round circus (IMO). Seems more of a game for the media.

    • dcarroll73 - Jan 5, 2014 at 1:25 AM

      I’m interested in your comment, pyleketerson. Why is the free agent market a reason to lose interest in baseball? I see that players change teams, but in baseball teams have a LOT more flexibility in how they approach such a situation than in (oddly-shaped)ball with a salary cap. It is a game that the media loves to play, but please ignore that and concentrate on the game itself. When owners and media outfits are making billions, do you really resent players making tens of (or in rare cases hundreds) of millions? Again concentrate on the game itself and who plays it.

      • cackalackyank - Jan 5, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        Just my opinion, but free agency or “the Hot Stove” has been watered down quite a bit lately by (I think) two things: 1. Teams have more money around and are more likely to lock up their young talent and hang on to them reducing the numbers of “marquee” FA available. 2. Qualifying offers. Given the reduced perceived value of the free agent classes caused by reason 1, the attachment of the draft compensation is really making some teams pause (See Lohse, Kyle). With a few obvious exceptions the FA classes seem more and more like lists of also rans, has beens, and never will bes

  13. dirtyhairy1971 - Jan 4, 2014 at 11:58 PM

    Lost: one brain
    Owner: dirtyharry1971
    If found: don’t touch. Alert authorities.
    Reward offered: (actually, that’s not true. We’ll beat it with a stick and bury it, so save us the trouble and if you see that miserable pile of mush scoop it up like dog crap and throw it away)

    • spudchukar - Jan 5, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Us? Let me make one thing clear to you dh, never ever am I “one of you”.

  14. rublestiltzkin - Jan 5, 2014 at 1:59 AM

    Dang dude, shut up already. People are allowed their opinions. No need to write a novel trying to discredit them cuz they don’t feel the same way you do.

  15. 461deep - Jan 5, 2014 at 2:50 AM

    Yankees went cheapo & out 0 last year so cap will need to be exceeded his year to contend. A-rod
    will play some games as 211 game suspension seems like an odd determination but granted we don’t know the actual details of the case against him. Seattle has a shot to land Tanaka and should
    tout team youth and large park as opposed to Yankees aging roster and homer ready school yard.

    • cackalackyank - Jan 5, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      The 211 number was based on all of 2014 plus the number of games remaining for the NYY at the time the suspension was announced in 2013. If left intact he would now serve all of 2014 and the first 49 games of 2015. I do not think this number will stand. The luxury tax threshold is pretty much blown even if he is out all this year. However, I think all Seattle need to do with Tanaka is tout location, location, location, and offer a competitive $ amount.

  16. markofapro - Jan 5, 2014 at 6:55 AM

    NY met forever…thank you for your judgment. I will take that into consideration as I recall your comments that the Tigers are on the way down and Mets are on the way up.

  17. echech88 - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Of course a good pitcher always helps, but were the Mariners really just Cano and a pitcher away from overtaking the Rangers and A’s (or even a possibly improved Anaheim)?

    Tanaka helps but I don’t think a pitcher transforms them. They need a deeper, more consistent lineup.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      I agree that they need more of everything. But it’s also undeniable that they’re moving in the right direction. Don’t forget they’ve added Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. Not studs, but upgrades nonetheless. Sign Tanaka, trade for Price and you’re looking at a starting rotation of King Felix, Price, Tanaka, Iwakumi and who cares who’s fifth after that?

      Throw in some improvement from even 2 or 3 guys from the group of Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin, Carlos Triunfel and Mike Saunders …

      Something special could be brewing in the Pacific Northwest.

      • spudchukar - Jan 5, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        For some reason, NY fans have convinced themselves that the Mariners are some perennially second division team. Sure they have been down for a awhile, but like you said, they have a core of young players, some of whom are budding stars, (Miller and Seager), others would most likely go in a deal for Price (Franklin and perhaps Ackley), and a couple others who have promise, (Zunino and Saunders).

        Cory Hart is a better player than many believe. He is a 2-time All-Star, only 31, and is an above average defender. Morrison could be a sleeper, but no guarantees there. But again as you pointed out, a Tanaka signing and a Price trade and the Mariners serious WS threats.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 5, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        The same geniuses who thought Boston would never again win the World Series? Yeah, they’re always good for a laugh.

        The M’s have a lot of quality young trade assets. It will be fun to see how they look when they break spring training.

      • spudchukar - Jan 5, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Yeah I would much prefer the Mariners outlook the next couple of years, than the Yanks. It is hard for me to see how Franklin is kept. His only value is as a DH, and his speed and defense don’t translate well into that position.

        Even if Price isn’t acquired, I expect the Mariners to deal him for another piece.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 5, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        The only problem with dealing Franklin is that every time they offer him, the other team is going to say “Miller.” But yeah, they have assets to deal, and we didn’t even mention Taijuan Walker yet …

      • spudchukar - Jan 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        Yeah, but Franklin is talented. Before he got plunked last year he was posting some impressive numbers. He has speed, power, and defense, and is only 22. Not many 21 year old have so much upside. Somebody is going to get a steal if they can pry him away.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 5, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        @ spudchukar, “Corey Hart … is an above average defender. ” That’s not how both fangraphs and baseball-reference grade his defensive. In fact both grade his defense below average. In fact considerable below average.

        fangraphs link: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1945&position=OF

        baseball-reference link: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hartco01.shtml

        And Morrison is just as bad if not worse according to both those sites.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 5, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        UYF – I give you credit for hanging in as long as you did last year while most Yanks fans were ducking & running for cover. I don’t care what people say about you – you’re a true fan, unlike the rest of the fair-weather pinstriped horde.

      • spudchukar - Jan 6, 2014 at 7:21 AM

        UYF, my friend, Baseball-Reference does not say that Corey Hart is a below average defender. It states that he is exactly average. But closer examination shows that this is due to his constant shuffling from CF and 1B. He isn’t a CF and he was learning to play 1B. Plus his one poor season 2012, was a year that he tried to play on two bad knees.

        I have watched him a lot, since he is in the Cards division, and as a RF he is well above average, with a strong throwing arm, a position he most certainly will hold down in Seattle, with Morrison and Smoak sharing 1B duties.

        Morrison is not a particularly good defender, but then I never said otherwise. When healthy he can be a dangerous hitter, but he is pretty much a one-dimensional player.

  18. jamesweltyms - Jan 6, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Will the Angels be wasting their “Trout Years” if they don’t sign a Tanaka? A consensus building here (http://the-mike-trout-sign-o-meter.com/) is that Trout will cost 11 years and $340MM+. That’s a lot of coin and no postseason.

    • joenash72 - Jan 6, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Mariners need to sign Tanaka so that we don’t waste our “Cano Years” if using that logic.

      Or would they be called the “Wee Willie Bloomquist Years”???

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