The Rakuten Gold Eagles finally posted their ace Masahiro Tanaka as a Christmas present to Major League Baseball. The posting system has changed and now Japanese teams can only set a "Release Fee" of up to $20 million, the player can also now negotiate with anyone. This means he is essentially a free agent, and with a lowered posting fee, there will be more money going to the players. Many believe he's the best free agent pitcher on the market and it looks like he wants to be paid like it.
Tanaka is reportedly looking for a deal that would pay him at least $17 million per year. Under the old posting rules it was believed he could get a deal slightly higher to the six-year, $56 million contract Yu Darvish signed with the Rangers, while his posting fee could reach $60-70 million. That would be a contract of around $9-$10 million per year. If Tanaka were to sign a six-year deal like Darvish, and make $17 million, he would be looking at a contract over $100 million. That's simply just the ground floor of contract talks. That gets you in the door.
With the Yankees, Mariners, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and likely others all competing to sign the best pitcher on the market, it's easy to see how $17 million per year can easily escalate to $20 million – and a $120 million contract. While he's projected to be a No. 2 starter in the majors, he's going to get paid like an ace. By comparison, Felix Hernandez makes around $25 million per year, CC Sabathia is guaranteed to make $23.5 million per year over the next three seasons, Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke will both make $25 million per year, and Cole Hamels will make $22.5 million a year over the next five. Yes, he'll be paid like an ace, but he still won't be paid more than an ace.
The Yankees have long been connected to Tanaka, but that was back when a majority of the money was going to be a huge pile of tax-free dollars going to the Japanese team. Now they'll have to dish out more cash to Tanaka and take a big hit to their payroll. It will all come down to whether or not the $189 million budget is really a mandate or a goal because it's highly unlikely they can get under their goal even without Tanaka. The Yankees have said that they would rather blow up the budget than just go over the line, so hopefully that means they go big on him.
The Yankees have wasted no time in their pursuit of him:
On the first day that major-league teams were allowed to begin negotiations with the Japanese pitching star, an industry source said Thursday that the Yankees already have been in contact with Casey Close, whom Tanaka recently designated as his agent. Close is Derek Jeter's longtime agent.
It's a nice start, but he has until January 24 before his negotiating window closes, so Tanaka will likely keep looking.
Yes, he has never pitched in the majors before, but he's been projected to have similar success as Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish have had. He's not going to be Kei Igawa, Tanaka is in a whole other league that he ever was. Also, he's 25 years old. The Yankees need that, probably more than any other team out there.
What do you think? What should the Yankees spend on Tanaka? All the money? Some of the money? None of the money?
- Projecting platoon stats for the 2014 Yankees
- Second round results for the Pinstripe Alley Top Moments Tournament
- Former Yankees and Orioles outfielder Paul Blair passes away at age 69
- Rooting interests: which new players will garner the most fan support?
- Yankees rumors: Mark Reynolds close to signing elsewhere