The latest edition of the seemingly endless Masahiro Tanaka will-he-or-won't-he-be-posted saga has hit. Given the new posting system that will apparently limit MLB team bids to $20 million total, Tanaka's Rakuten Golden Eagles team is less inclined to post him than they were before under the new system. It makes sense; Tanaka alone could very well help them earn more than the $20 million posting fee that they would be receiving for selling his services earlier than necessary. (Way to think that one through, MLB.)
However, Tanaka has said that it is his dream to pitch in the United States, and after seven seasons of dominating the NPB from his age 18 season up until his monster 2013 wherein he pitched to an amazing 1.27 ERA and 0.943 WHIP and helped the Golden Eagles win the Japan Series, it's quite evident that he has nothing left to prove in Japan. Amazingly, he just turned 25 on November 1st. If he comes stateside now, then he'll have a decent shot at a long and successful MLB career. The Eagles don't want Tanaka to go though, and they are reportedly trying to convince him to stay in Japan:
Sponichi is saying that Rakuten is going to try to get Tanaka to hang around for 1 more year. http://t.co/I8O2J05tfq— Patrick Newman (@npbtracker) December 16, 2013
Tanaka has already stated his desire to become a MLB pitcher by getting posted, so it's unlikely that they will be able to change his mind. As Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk notes, Rakuten is not completely obligated to honor his wishes, so they could very well refuse, though that would be a blow to player-team relations throughout NPB.
In the end, it seems like Tanaka will get posted; it's just a matter of when. This news just makes the Yankees play the waiting game a little while longer. It's clear that they (and several other teams) want Tanaka more than any other free agent starter, and I'd rather the Yankees wait on Tanaka than panic and give the likes of Matt Garza or Ervin Santana an ugly expensive contract. Tanaka is probably the best starting pitcher on the market. It's frustrating that the process is taking so long, but there's not much the Yankees can do about it. In Tanaka we trust.
In the meantime, I'm just going to watch GIFs of Tanaka.