An endless back and forth of rumors over the course of the last few weeks has ultimately resulted in Masahiro Tanaka's Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, agreeing to allow the right-hander to play baseball in the United States next season. MLB teams that are willing to pay $20 million to the Golden Eagles will earn the rights to negotiate with Tanaka after he is officially posted.
The Yankees have considered Tanaka to be one of their top targets off the offseason to help fill out a rotation that is lacking viable options. With pitching prospects failing to turn into major league impact players, the Yankees have no choice but to turn to the outside to fill their needs. It is not often that a player like Tanaka hits the open market, so it's likely that the Yankees will put all their chips on the table in order to compete with other teams for Tanaka, who is virtually a free agent and will be the highest sought after commodity left on the market.
If Tanaka is to become a Yankee, the team will likely have to give up their hopes of staying under the $189 million luxury tax limit. The prior posting system would have allowed the Yankees to win negotiating rights with a tax-free posting fee bid. Under the new system, the player will receive a larger chunk of the money teams will spend to acquire their services and that amount will be subject to taxes.
Rumors swirled that Rakuten might not allow Tanaka to come to the United States because of the money they'd lose with the posting fee being limited to $20 million. The winning bid was expected to be somewhere in the $75 million range as teams vied for the Japanese phenomenon's services. Ultimately, it seems like the official word is that they will allow him to fulfill his dream of pitching in MLB next year.
Merry Christmas, Yankees fans. There is real hope for the rotation after all, assuming the Steinbrenners are ready to let Plan 189 go in order to do what it takes to get Tanaka.