As Masahiro Tanaka begins his tour around the United States to meet with teams that he could be pitching for next season, three cities have emerged as early favorites. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that New York, Los Angeles, and Boston are the top preferred destinations on Tanaka's list going into his meetings. Technically, that would include five teams: Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, and Red Sox. The Mets haven't seemed to be at the front of the Tanaka sweepstakes, and the Red Sox have said before that it is unlikely they'll add a pitcher before the season begins.
If Shae is correct, two of the main players for Tanaka, the Dodgers and Yankees, will likely have to fight to the finish for the Japanese right-handers services for 2014 and beyond. The Dodgers have shown a willingness to spare no expense that hasn't quite been the Yankees' M.O. lately, but the Yankees don't have the concern of needing to keep Clayton Kershaw around before he hits free agency, either.
The Yankees front office has not been shy about their desire to put Tanaka in pinstripes and their need for a pitcher with top of the rotation stuff is obvious. A change to the posting system might have tempered their desires a little, with more of the money coming in the form of a large contract for the player instead of a tax-free lump sum to the player's Japanese team. With the inability to turn a pitching prospect into major league gold becoming more and more of a concern and teams not allowing their stars to reach free agency the way they did in the past, the Yankees may need to just bite the bullet and do what is necessary to land Tanaka, unless the bidding gets completely out of control.
For all the promise that Tanaka holds, he is an unknown commodity in Major League Baseball. If the Yankees believe they can out-bid other teams at a price they can live with, they can't worry about things like luxury tax penalties. Tanaka sees the city of New York as a favorite early on, according to Shae, which is more of an advantage than all but two other cities have. The Steinbrenners have said they are all-in, but at some point, they're going to have to prove it.