Update: Yankees have sent top evaluators to scout Masahiro Tanaka

Cafardo: Rumblings that Cashman may be "a little tired" of Yankees
Labor Day Open Thread

September 2nd: Assistant GM Billy Eppler and special assignment scout Don Wakamatsu both scouted Tanaka last week, report Mark Hale and George King. The Yankees have seen most of the right-hander’s starts this year. Seems like the team is really doing its homework after literally not knowing what pitches Kei Igawa threw after signing him.

August 21st: Via Ben Badler: The Yankees and Rangers have sent their top evaluators to scout Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka recently. Other clubs have watched him as well. We first heard New York had interest in Tanaka, who is expected to be posted after the season, back in May. Balder says MLB and NPB are discussing changes to the posting system — including placing a hard cap on the posting fee — but nothing is final.

Tanaka, 24, has a 1.20 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 158 innings for the Rakuten Golden Eagles this year. He’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 lbs., and is said to sit in the low-90s with a fastball that touches 96. Badler says scouts have some concern because he doesn’t get good plane on the pitch and it’s more hittable than the velocity suggests. Tanaka also throws a low-80s slider and a mid-80s splitter, like many Asian pitchers. He has been one of the league’s best pitchers for years now. Here’s video.

Tanaka is not as good as Yu Darvish, but Badler says “scouts project (him) as a potential No. 2 starter who can immediately step into a Major League rotation.” The Yankees have been very shy when it comes to bidding on big money international free agents after getting burned by Kei Igawa, but they could always change their approach at a moment’s notice. They will need some starters going forward, that’s for sure. The posting fee doesn’t count against the luxury tax either, just the actual player contract.

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Cafardo: Rumblings that Cashman may be "a little tired" of Yankees
Labor Day Open Thread
  • JCK

    What’s the process if two teams post the same top bid? I feel like that would happen a lot more often if there was a hard cap.

    • Preston

      Teams usually post really weird numbers to avoid that happening. Darvish was 51,703,411, Dice-K was $51,111,111.11.

  • soxhata

    We’ve dropped the ball on international signing in the Hal era.Missing out on the cuban ofers is inexcusable given our lackluster AAA and AA prospects.Same with Chapman of the reds.He got 30 mil.So we had a bust with Igawa.We surely are scouting these players more,and did pretty well with CEl Duque and Contreras turned out pretty good-at least after he left us.When the A’s spend the money it really drives home the point.Sell the team Hal.Nobody can fault you if you don’t have your dad’s passion for the game.Sell them and enjoy the riches the real Boss has left you.

    • pat

      Lol.

    • jjyank

      Not to go all nycsportzfan on you (and apologies to nycsportz), but the spacebar is your friend. It helps you, along with the periods, to distinguish separate sentences.

    • jsbrendog

      INEXCUSABLE!11!!!111!!11!!!11!!!11!!!1!!11!!1!1!1!!!1!!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        OMGZ IZ THE BRENDOG!!!!!!!!

  • jg233

    I wonder if Kuroda is the reason he wears #18?

    • pat

      Tradition in Japan for #18 to be worn by the team’s ace.

      • jjyank

        Really? I actually didn’t know that. Kinda cool that there’s a specific number for the ace. Must make it real easy for a fan to buy a jersey. Even after the guy leaves, the next one to take his place will still be an ace.

        • Laz

          MLB teams used to do 1-8 for the lineup position, and 10,11,12,14 was often your starting pitchers.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      18 is the “ace number” in Japan

      http://www.npbtracker.com/2012.....g-tribute/

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadgeek Roadgeek Adam

        Same for 13 and Venezuelans because of Dave Concepción.

  • Vincent Vega

    I hope Texas doesn’t over bid by $30 million this time around

    • Mike HC

      I don’t know. Kinda seems like everyone else massively underbid.

      • Preston

        Maybe, but it’s not like he’s adding huge surplus value. They are basically paying him 112 million (60 million in contract, 51.7 in posting fee) for six years. He’s been worth more than his annual pay so far, but it’s hard to exceed 18 million by too much. Considering the risk involved, pitching every fifth day, different ball, harder competition etc. That was definitely a huge risk.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          Well, yeah, of course it’s a huge risk. The flip side of that is that they only had to pay 112 million for the age 25-30 seasons of a true ace.

          • Preston

            My point is that isn’t really that big of a steal, market value for Yu if he was a FA tomorrow would be what ~25 million per, they paid 18 before they knew he was going to be that. To me that’s an overpay.

            • 28 this year

              Not to mention that the posting fee is paid up front i think making it more expensive in terms of purchasing power with inflation. So yea, they probably paid about 80% of market value for an unknown for the MLB. It has worked out so far but I agree that its not really a steal.

  • Wayne

    Another daisuke matsuzaka hope the rangers bid on this guy and win it so they get stuck with his contract along with yu

    • Isaac

      I don’t think their “stuck” with Darvish, considering he’s a top 5 pitcher in baseball. I guess Kuroda, Iwakuma, and Darvish still haven’t proven to you that Japanese pitchers can have success in MLB

      • gbyanks

        Wei-Yin Chen hs also been good for the os

        • Fernando

          True, but he is a Taiwanese pitcher.

          • teo

            true, but he is from the japanese league.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Yeah, that Yu guy really sucks. I’d hate for the Yankees to be “stuck” with him.

      • Mike

        Agreed.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      I would love to be “stuck” with Darvish for the next 4 years with him making roughly $10 million a year each year.

  • Isaac

    Best free agent news i’ve seen from this team in a few years? Please bid high Cashman. CC, Kuroda, Tanaka, Nova, Pineda? Not bad at all

    • Mac

      They’ve been rumored to have interest in a lot of top IFAs in recent years, so this news really isn’t any different. From Chapman to Soler to Yoenis to Yu they’ve been rumored to be interested in just about all of them at one point or another.

    • toad

      Probably the best rotationin history consisting solely of guys whose names end in “a.”

      Where have you gone, Frank Tanana?

    • Mike

      Don’t forget Hughes.

  • Chris

    Shying away from the Asian international market because a scout or three messed up on Kei Igawa, is a terrible strategy. There has never been more immediate talent from the few international hotbeds, mainly Japan and Cuba. I realize every player is different, but if the farm system isn’t producing as Hal elaborated today, then maybe it’s time to flex your financial muscle again…hit or miss.

    • Revan

      The problem with the farm isn’t talent but the completely inability to develop the talent they’ve acquired. A team with patience would’ve turned the Big Three into something useful. Instead all three blow.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Ah, you mean like Generation K?

    • Mac

      That they haven’t bid high on IFAs since 2007 (same year they brought in Juan Miranda as well) doesn’t mean it was because of Kei Igawa. That’s a narrative people have created. It could be the case or it could be a coincidence. They might have just subsequently decided that each IFA was overvalued. Prices have risen substantially.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        That’s a narrative people have created. It could be the case or it could be a coincidence.

        ———————-

        Not entirely true. Cashman himself stated that the Igawa signing changed the way the scouted and valued IFAs.

  • CashmanNinja

    Kei Igawa was a good pitcher in Japan, but his stuff just wasn’t good enough to translate to the majors. Mainly the fact that he would leave his fastball up all the time. He just couldn’t blow it by anyone. Batters would sit back on the off-speed stuff and wait for a fastball down the middle or belt high; either way they knew it’d be middle of the plate and would crush it. It should have been noticed by scouts, but obviously they messed up.

    Just because we made a mistake once doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it again. We missed the boat on Yu Darvish. I was extremely high on him at the time, but felt the Rangers were giving a tad more than he was worth in order to win the bidding. So far he’s been worth every penny. We missed out, but that doesn’t mean we should shy away from every Asian player.

    Now this Tanaka guy intrigues me. He’s very young and seems to have pretty good stuff. I do think his fastball seems a little flat at times, but he also has a kind of funky delivery with his arm that looks to add a little deception to it. It looks like he has a lot of wrist action and “whips” the pitches at the plate. The one real concern I have is that his curve/slider in particular seems to be thrown down and away a lot. That works every now and then, but I’d like to see him pitch inside a bit more. That being said I do see a lot of talent and potential to get even better. His fastball does look a little flat, but if he could develop a little side-to-side movement he could become a filthy pitcher…especially given his age. The posting fee doesn’t count against the cap so I’m not opposed to making a run at him. Kei Igawa may have been a bust, but that’s part of the game. It’s the same thing with normal free agents. You’re not always going to get the stud you thought you were.

  • Fernando

    I think it is worth taking a risk here, plus he would still be quite young as compared to other Japanese pitchers that came over. And with the fee not counting towards the luxury tax, it is a good way to add talent without impacting that 189M line.

  • Beeblebrox

    Is he related to Tia Tanaka?

    • Mike

      I’m taking a shot at the dark but I think your right.

  • trr

    TOP evaluators..

  • Chris z.

    Interesting this story comes out the same day Hal told everyone to improve the farm. Even if he slots in right away as a 3-4-5 to replace Hughes it gives the front office another draft to not plug holes but rather take the best player available to improve the system overall.

    If Tanaka is a legit player and sticks the Yanks then can trade a good farm arm for help in other areas. It’s worth a shot.

  • Frank

    The Yankees can’t develop talent at all. They have also made some ridiculous picks in the early rounds in recent years. The fact that they dropped the…”We had trout rated highest on our board” crap is laughable when they reach for guys like bichette and culver. The igawa blunder has taken them completely out of the one market that they still have the ability to use their financial leverage (Japan / Cuba with over 25 players). They don’t draft high enough and the IFA market hasn’t brought them much recently, and now they get to sign one top guy before being capped out. Knowing all this, plus the fact that the only guys hitting free agency are past their prime sluggers who get 100MM+…they ignore the Cuba / Japan market…just as business is booming in it. I’m not saying they needed to get them all (darvish, cespedes, puig, chapman, soler) but come one….not even one???? And they bid 15MM for darvish while the winning bid was 60?? Why bother? Whether it’s the owners or someone else…they’ve put themselves in an awful position and until I read about Hal calling a meeting…I wasn’t sure they even realized it!

    • Bubba

      Whine all you want about the Yankees posting fee, but apparently no other team was within $35MM of the Rangers bid. That posting system is pretty eff’ed up. As for the Cubans, limited scouting of players of indeterminate age basically playing in High-A ball who you often have to give a MLB contract to.

  • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

    Indians just released Dice-K so he’s available. Surely the front office would be interested if only from a selling merchandise to Japan angle.

  • Frank

    Top. Evaluators.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Not even the middle ones.

  • Ron

    Looks like someone is going to threaten igawa’s AAA wins record.

  • Bill

    At least they’re doing their due diligence here. How good are the Yankees top scouts though is my question.

    Posting fee is also a good way to bypass salary that will go towards the luxury tax threshold.

    If the scouting report comes back good I hope the team is aggressive in their bid and that the scouting report is correct. Could be a big win for them if they get it right.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      It’s probably just window dressing.

  • crawdaddy

    Why are Yankee fans questioning their pro scouts? Are you assuming those scouts didn’t tell the team to sign Darvish? I think they did, but ownership wasn’t willing to spend that 100+M for him.

  • crawdaddy

    By the way, the Yankees scouting evaluation process for IFA players has changed since the Igawa signing. Matter of fact, the disaster of the Igawa signing led to that changer per Cashman several years ago.

  • Mike

    I hope he’s not replacing Kuroda. But if we can get him and add him to Nova and Hughes we’d have a pretty good young core.

    • Mr. Roth

      God help us if he ever pitches in the same rotation with Hughes.

      God help us if we have a season where Hughes is still on the team and represents part of our core.

  • Nathan

    Yawn.

    After the Darvish hype and talk, I refuse to get excited about any international player until they actually sign.

    I seriously believe the Igawa deal made the Yankees gun shy.

  • MLB Scout

    Cashman and front office need to be changed, Yankees have never been so weak and it all starts at the top. Need to update way they train and develop players, they don’t work as hard as other teams. Redsox have done a great job this year, Yankees used to have great pitching coaches and need to go back to developing their talent. With all the money and power the Yankees have, they make poor decisions in running the Team. It’s not about getting good old players, they won when they had good young players with a mix of old.

  • Nic

    To me, at least, it seems they signed igawa simply as a desperation move because the hated Red Sox signed dice k….and, given all the hype, dice k was a CANT MISS. I think the yanks really wanted him, so they panicked. Igawa was good in Japan, but the scouting was ANYTHING BUT GLOWING.

    And that leads me to something else…….I know darkish was talked about for years before he was eligible for mlb. But, as much as scouts loved him, they were NUTS about Dice K….And look what happened. While not an igawa bust by any means, who thinks the signing was a success??? I’m not reading lousy reports on tanaka, but nowhere NEAR as praiseworthy as DiceK…..I think the yanks are as spooked by how good they thought dice k was than they were on missing on igawa.