The formal announcement that the Rakuten Golden Eagles would allow Masahiro Tanaka to pitch in MLB next season came late Tuesday night, and all the proceedings for the Japanese right-hander will get underway Thursday morning. Teams will have a 30-day window to negotiate with Tanaka, coming to an end on January 24 at 5:00 pm. It is not necessary for teams to formally bid the $20 million that must be paid to the Golden Eagles in advance, but that money will have to be paid to Tanaka's former team once he agrees to a deal with a new team in the United States.
Tanaka has also selected Casey Close to represent him in his negotiations with MLB teams. The Yankees are no strangers to negotiating with Close, who represents both Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, as well as Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. There will be plenty of competition for Tanaka's services, but the Yankees have an immediate need for rotation help and have seemed very willing to go all in on Tanaka. Though an unproven commodity, the other pitching options on the free agent market, like Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez, leave a lot to be desired. The 25-year-old Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Golden Eagles last season.
Cubs, Angels, and Diamondbacks are among the teams expected to be in competition with the Yankees for Tanaka, likely among others. Now that the posting system has changed, the price for Tanaka in guaranteed money is surely to rise. Exclusive negotiating rights won via the posting system are a thing of the past, making it possible for teams to drive up the price for other teams like with regular MLB free agents. It's possible that Tanaka could command a deal in the $100 million range without having ever thrown a pitch in the United States.
Are you all in on Tanaka, or do you think the deal he will require is too risky for a pitcher with no MLB experience?