King: Yankees “are going to be serious players” for Masahiro Tanaka

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Via George King: Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka “is a priority” for the Yankees this winter, and they “are going to be serious players” in the posting process. “He is better than [Yu Darvish] because he is a strike thrower,’’ said one overly-enthusiastic scout. “Overall, Darvish’s stuff might be a little bit better, but this guy knows how to pitch. He is like [Hiroki Kuroda], he has a lot of guts. He throws four pitches but when it gets to [stone]-cutting time, it’s fastball and splitter.’’

Tanaka, 25 next month, had a 1.24 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 181 innings for the Rakuten Golden Eagles this year. He is indeed expected to be posted this winter. The Yankees have been scouting him quite a bit in recent weeks, most notably sending assistant GM Billy Eppler and special assignment scout Don Wakamatsu to see him. King spoke to several executives who expect the bidding to approach $60M, which would be a record. Only the contract, not the posting fee, would count against the luxury tax. The Yankees have shied away from Japanese players (via the posting process) since the Kei Igawa disaster, so bidding big on Tanaka would be a big chance of pace.

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  • CountryClub

    Go get him.

    If he becomes a legit #2, as scouts have predicted, great. But even if he becomes a strong #4 he would be worth the posting fee. They need reliable pitching. Hopefully he’ll fit the bill.

    • JKK

      Agreed. He is a legit #2 from all the scouting reports so far during the summer. He would solve the spot vacated by Andy P. If Yankees can sign Kuroda on top of Tanaka, Yankees will have 2 #2 Starters in Tanaka and Kuroda, #3 Starters in Nova and maybe CC can turn around a poor 2013 and regain portion of his form. When these ifs come together, Yankees could have a good rotation for 2014.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    Sounds good so far, Tanaka should be one of their targets this year.

    That scout that thinks he’s better than Darvish is crazy though. Darvish just had a pretty good year (2.83 ERA, 2.84 xFIP, 3.28 FIP) and led the league in Ks. I don’t expect anyone to be better than this before I’ve actually seen him in the majors.

    • I’m One

      Yeah, gotta agree that a scout saying he’s better than Darvish is a bit over-enthusiastic. Of course, if the Yankees do get him, I’d love that scout to be right. :-)

      Seems like the Yankees have done their homework. I hope they get him and he’s everything they expect him to be.

      • mitch

        All it takes is one comment like that and he’ll have to live up to unfair expectations in the eyes of most fans for the rest of his career

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Yea the scout needs to pull his excitement in a bit.

  • Frank

    Can’t see Yanks outbidding the Dodgers for this guy. He’ll be wearing Dodger blue.

    • MannyGeee

      I think between Kershaw/Greinke/Ryu/Beckett/Billingsly… thats alot of arms.

      • Cuso

        The one year that Beckett & Billingsley have remaining will not prevent them from going after this guy. There is an excellent chance that both Josh and Chad have thrown their last regular season pitches for the Dodgers. If neither are ready to go after Spring Training, they’ll be released.

        • Roadgeek Adam

          There is also a high belief the Dodgers could go after David Price.

        • Kosmo

          recent rumor has it the Dodgers are very interested in David Price.

          • Coolerking101

            Do they have anything left to trade? I assume any trade bait they have is sitting in A ball.

            • Kosmo

              Zack Lee, Joc Peterson , Whitlow etc.

            • Frank

              Quite a bit actually. They have at least 3 very highly thought of prospects. Not sure what it would take to get price, but the dodgers likely have enough.

        • Bo Knows

          Yeah but trying to retain Clayton Kershaw is going to cost at least $200+ million contract

  • Matt :: Sec110

    This would be a huge get. I think a solid rotation (CC, Hirok, Nova, Tanaka, Phelps/Warren/Pineda) and a healthy Tex/Jeter coupled with Cano can contend…even if they don’t get McCann.

    • CountryClub

      I think I’ll be surprised if Kuroda comes back. Maybe getting this guy would help.

      • Kosmo

        plus a lot of big ifs. Can CC return to form? Can Nova be effective over a full season ? Will Hirok resign with NY and if so will he be as good as we´ve seen him these past 2 seasons. No counting on Pineda. Warren and Phelps? Yawn.

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    Is it possible Igawa was the worst signee to see legitimate MLB playing time in Yankees history?

    • Cuso

      No, because he never saw legitimate MLB playing time.

      ..not that he deserved it.

    • nyyankfan_7

      Cut to Hideki Irabu saying “Hey Matt, did you forget me?”

    • nyyankfan_7

      Well I’m not real sure where the “Matt” came from there….was looking at the wrong poster apparently; but you get the point regardless.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’m a bit more partial to the Pavano/Wright duo of suck if we’re talking recent history. At least Igawa was somewhat of an acknowledged risk.

    • Mikhel

      In recent history my vote goes to: Tony Womack.

    • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

      Ed Whitson ftw

  • Dan

    I wonder how much of Tanaka is hype. Before the season, articles about Tanaka said he was good, could be a number 2, but he isn’t as good as Darvish. After the season, the articles I read are now arguing that he’s better than Darvish. Either way, I really want this kid.

    • MannyGeee

      This is a legit concern. The line ‘one overly-enthusiastic scout’ scares the shit out of me.

      • Kosmo

        His splitter is such a wipeout pitch that Baseball America’s Ben Badler called it perhaps the best splitter in the world back in late August.

    • Bo Knows

      He’s “better” in that he walks fewer guys and is more a pitcher than Darvish was. Darvish was seen as a power arm, who’s command might not translate to the MLB, we actually saw that his first year with all the walks which is why he now pitches almost completely from the stretch.

      Tanaka is seen like a younger (possibly better) version of Kuroda, he prefers to pitch economically and to contact in order to save his bullets for the dangerous hitters/situations as well as go deeper into games. His splitter is called an easy 70 pitch, and I’ve seen several references on BA, that it’s considered the best splitter in the world

  • leftylarry

    Never seen him pitch, never heard of him but I guarantee he isn’t better than Yu Darvish, GUARANTEE.

    Was that the scout who though KEI Igawa was the nest Warren Spahn?

    • Holy Ghost

      and Hideki Irabu was supposed to be the Japanese Roger Clemens

  • will

    So yankees bid 60 mil. and red sux come in at 100, they have to pay a hundread right? Who in their right mind would bid so blindingly like that and over bid someone else by 40 mil? Which could happen.. Seems moronic way of doing business

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      ..because they don’t know what the other bids are.

  • Chris Z.

    I like it simply because he is 25. They gave Igawa a 5 year deal right out of the gate so would the Yankees go at least 5 for someone who is 25?

    Darvish: 6/60
    Dice K: 6/52 – up to 60 with incentives
    Kuroda: (not posted, came as a FA) 3/35.3

    I don’t think they should have any trouble getting a 5 or 6 year deal around 10 per for him. Thats not bad for a 2-3-4 guy who is 25. If he can be almost as good as Darvish then they must do it. There are no other options in the system.

    I also see Kuroda returning if they make this move, it certainly raises the chances I would assume.

    • Mikhel

      They spent more this year in Youk+Wells and got very little in return.

    • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

      Why because they both played in Japan?

  • FYER7

    More like CC, Nova, Tanaka, Pineda and Manny…reading between lines on Pineda and Manny

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Well Manny certainly won’t be involved in the plans. At least not to start the year for sure.

  • Mickey Scheister

    If this takes any legit playing time away from our next ace, Vidal Nuno, this has potential to be the worst move of the offseason, right behind Axisa not signing Eddard for another two year deal.

    • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?


  • Leg-End

    We need pitching, this wouldn’t be a bad start.

  • Chris in Maine


  • Chris

    I’m all aboard the Tanaka train. But I can’t help but to dislike his K numbers: 7.7 K/9. Not a mathematician, but this will significantly drop once he reaches MLB.

    • Kosmo

      interesting that Kuroda´s K totals remained about the same after the transition from Nippon to the US with a slight uptick from 6.7 to 6.8.

    • Bo Knows

      It’s said that he has made it an effort to pitch more to contact against weak hitters and lineups so he doesn’t unnecessarily drive up his own pitch count, which strikeouts tend to do. I was concerned about it to, but reading those reports made me feel better about it

  • steeeerikes

    Based on numbers it’s laughable to call this dude better than Darvish. Darvish was a strike-thrower in Japan too. His last 5 seasons there he averaged a 1.96 BB/9. It was 1.4 BB/9 in 232 IP in his final season in Japan. And his K-rate blows Tanaka’s away.

    Tanaka won’t be able to live in the zone in MLS nearly as much as he does in Japan. I like the idea of going after him as a 3-4 type guy, but no way is this guy worth posting $60MM.

    • Mikhel

      “Tanaka won’t be able to live in the zone in MLS nearly as much as he does in Japan”

      As long as he makes it in the MLB.

      “no way is this guy worth posting $60MM”

      …wait ’till you see the Yanks sign Hughes or an old, over the hill, on his way out, pitcher for $14 MM an him only pitching half a season.

  •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

    A little surprised to hear this, but I’m into it.

  • Mike Plugh

    Tanaka is legit, but he’s not Darvish. I was down on Darvish before he joined Texas because I felt he’d failed to develop beyond the “fish tank” of NPB. He threw his fastball too straight and never looked good against international competition. His upside was always his large frame. He’s a pretty long guy with room to build mass on his core.

    Tanaka doesn’t have that kind of length and he can’t get stronger by bulking up. At this point, he is what he is physically. He’s not Darvish, and maybe not all that close. He is a legit pitcher though and he could approximate Kuroda’s results. My knock on Tanaka was always his mound presence. He always seemed flustered when he got into trouble, but he’s solved that in the last couple of years. He’s grown into being an ace and trusts his stuff a lot more. I’d still have a handful of questions about how he’d fare when confronted with MLB hitters and lineups that are MLB-caliber top to bottom. He pitches to lineups now that are largely AAA caliber at the top, AA after the middle, and sometimes A at the bottom.

    • Kosmo

      Flustered at the age of 21. Big deal. Remember Tanaka is all of 24. So since he turned 22 he put it together. Tanaka has pitched to a minscule ERA the last 3 years so yes NPB hitters are over matched. Even top flight MILB pitchers from A ball on up have a difficult time pitching to anything around a 2.00 ERA let alone a 1.00.

    • Chris Z.

      “He pitches to lineups now that are largely AAA caliber at the top, AA after the middle, and sometimes A at the bottom.”

      Sounds like he belongs in the NL and not the AL. Certainly not the AL east.

  • Matt DiBari

    I’d much rather try this than “LETS SEE WHAT ADAM WARREN HAS!”

    Because I think we know what Adam Warren has. I’ll take an unknown over a known mediocrity

  • Kosmo

    For example we could compare Marichal to Gibson but why should we ? Different pitchers with different types of arsonals.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Despite them being different, you can still compare them though. Both great, but Gibson was better.

      Like Maddux and Smoltz. Different pitchers. Both great. Maddux was better though.

      • Kosmo

        To the age of 33 Marichal was the better pitcher and then he declined. Marichal already had 221 Wins to Gibson´s 160 or so at the age of 33. Gibson pitched well until the age of 37 when the wheels came off.
        I would never compare Maddux to Smoltz. Maddux to Clemens or the Big Unit yes.

        •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          He wasn’t better until he was 33. Gibson’s best seasons came when he was 32-33 including one outrageous season.

          Why would you compare Maddux to those two and not Smoltz?

          • Kosmo

            Gibson and Marichal. I was using them to make a point. Gibson was a great fastball great slider pitcher. Marichal had a good fastball, forkball, curveball,change and 3 arm angles and the kitchen sink. I enjoyed watching them both equally. Gibson seemed to stand out more because of the attention he received in the 3 WS he performed in and the ridiculously great season he had in 68. To me Gibson´s 1st game vs Detroit in the 68 WS was in my recollection the most dominant postseason performance ever.

            I think Smoltz was a great SP AND reliever but he´s not in the same class as Maddux, Clemens and Unit. He´s a notch below IMO.

            • JCK

              I think Smoltz was a great SP AND reliever but he´s not in the same class as Maddux, Clemens and Unit. He´s a notch below IMO.

              Not to nitpick, but doesn’t that mean you have compared them and you think Smoltz isn’t as good?

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Posting fees don’t count towards luxury tax.

    Get the development team in place.

    Pay $80 mil for his posting fee.

    Give him a deal similar to those above.

    Hope for Arod to either beat the suspension entirely, or get 162 game suspension.

    Sign McCann.

    Pray for rain.

  • Frank

    I expect the bidding to go to 65MM form what I’ve read, and the yankees to put in a bid of 18MM and be surprised that they missed out. George is long gone. Imagine if they took any one of darvish, cespedes, puig, soler, etc. seriously. Instead, the spend 6.5MM per year on ichiro and 13MM for a season of wells…and then they wonder why their farm team doesn’t produce anything.

  • sevrox

    I sincerely think V. Nuno will be a major rotational piece.

  • Nathan

    The Yankees have a serious need for quality pitching (or even just pitching), the posting fee won’t count towards the $189M, and he’s supposed to be pretty darn good? It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

    Only means it won’t happen. The Igawa signing will continue to haunt the Yankees…

  • Dan Morra

    Never know – he could be a Mariano replacement too :)

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Adding this guy and, if Kuroda doesn’t come back, Garza, would be a pretty nice way of repleneshing the rotation.

  • CashmanNinja

    This is music to my friggin’ ears. I’ve been driving the Tanaka bandwagon train and would be stoked if we got him. I don’t care about the posting fee because it doesn’t count against the payroll, and that’s where the majority of the $$ to get him will go towards. It would be no different than going after a $10-12 mil per year pitcher on the open market. It’s a risk, but I think it’s one that has to be done. There’s just something about his delivery and the way the ball jumps out of his hand that I love. And he seems to have a little tenacity about him that we haven’t had since, dare I say…Roger Clemens (pitching demeanor wise).

  • http://Riveraveblues Austinmac

    Nuno throws 86-87. He is a fifth starter in the most optimistic world.

  • Farewell Mo

    Let’s hope after fucking up royally by not strongly going after any of the Darvish, Chapman, Puig, Cespedes, Soler and Ryu just to name the obvious, they are realizing that completely turning your back on IFAs is pretty damn foolish and is one of many reasons why their so bereft of young talent.

  • Isaac

    Tanaka, McCann, Beltran. Please. A young piece, and two capable veterans to bridge the gap for the prospects, the teams future would be so much brighter

  • CS Yankee

    Post 100M$ and sign him up for 6/72. Market the shit out of him to help offset the 100 and tell Hank that he can’t buy an English futbol club for another couple of years and Hal will need to stick to using Dom Perinon in his sorbet for a couple of years.

    Seriously though, we need a big free agent win this offseason. Resign Kuroda, get this arm, resign Cano, get McCann & they are set;
    1) CC
    2) Kuroda
    3) Tanaka
    4) Nova
    5) Pineda, Nuno, Warren or whomever

    1…Grit (CF)
    2…Jete (SS or DH)
    3)…Cano (2B)
    4)…Teix (1B)
    5)…McCann (C)
    6)…Sori (LF or DH)
    7)…Reynolds (DH or 3B)
    8)…Nuney (3B or PR)
    9…Ichi, Zo, or Wells (RF)

    This should be under the 189BS, and win 95+ games…book it!

    • Isaac

      I dont mind Reynolds/Nunez at third, or maybe Youkilis cheap again, but Ichiro, Almonte, and Wells provide nothing in Right… Beltran can be bought on a 1 or 2 year deal

    • Hardy

      I agree with the plan, but this team is still closer to 85 wins than to 95 wins.

  • Wayne

    Wish raizel from Cuba was in the states. He is going to be an ace if he had the chance to pitch here.. Don’t know if he ever will get the chance to unfortunately.

  • Mike

    If we pay 100+ million for Tanaka and he becomes the next Daisuke or Igawa do we all blame Cashman for being “aggressive”?

    Hopefully he’s good though because it’s going to cost a TON to get this guy.