Jan
02

Poll: How much would you offer Masahiro Tanaka?

By
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

Three weeks and one day from now, Masahiro Tanaka‘s 30-day negotiating window will close. He’ll either sign with one of the 30 MLB clubs prior to 5pm ET on January 24th or he’ll return to the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan for another season. I would bet a lot of money on the former. A lot.

The Yankees have already contacted Tanaka’s agent Casey Close — Close also represents Derek Jeter, but I don’t think that automatically gives them some kind of advantage. Close represents plenty of star-caliber players — and they’re expected to pursue him very aggressively. He was their top pitching target coming into the offseason and nothing has changed despite the team’s early-winter spending spree and the revised posting system.

That new posting system has completely changed the market for Japanese players. Rather than having teams place a blind bid to win exclusive negotiating rights, Tanaka is essentially a free agent with a $20M surcharge. Whichever team signs him sends the extra $20M to Rakuten, otherwise any team can talk to him for free. His contract will be much larger than fellow Japanese hurlers like Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka. His negotiating leverage is enormous.

Of course, Tanaka is still the same pitcher today that he was a few weeks ago, before the posting process was revising. His earning potential changed dramatically but his pitching skill did not. There are questions about his ability to translate from NPB to MLB just like there are with every Japanese pitcher. Some team will pay through the nose because they believe Tanaka can make the transition seamlessly. What’s an appropriate contract though? Let’s look at some benchmarks.

Seven years, $175M-180M
These are the Felix Hernandez ($175M) and Justin Verlander ($180M) contracts, which are essentially tied for the largest pitching contract in baseball history. Clayton Kershaw will smash these numbers at some point in the next 13 months one way or another, but it’s unlikely to happen before Tanaka signs. Felix was only one year older than Tanaka is now when he signed his extension, making him the most age appropriate comparable we have. A lot more than age will be considered, obviously.

Seven years, $161M
This is CC Sabathia‘s original contract with the Yankees, which was then the largest pitching contract in history. He was three years older than Tanaka when he signed and his track record of durability was insane. Tanaka has been a horse in Japan but not on Sabathia’s level when he first signed with New York.

Six years, $144M-147M
Cole Hamels ($144M) and Zack Greinke ($147M). Both guys signed their deals at age 29 (four years older than Tanaka) and were low-level aces. Highly durable and among the best pitchers in the baseball for sure, but inconsistent enough to keep them just outside the game’s truly elite. Based on everything we’ve heard in recent weeks and months, that’s the kind of pitcher Tanaka may settle in as in MLB.

Six years, $120-124M
These numbers come from the FanGraphs crowd, which has been surprisingly accurate the last two winters. The masses tend to be pretty solid guessers, it turns out. This is more or less Matt Cain’s recent extension with the Giants (six years, $127.5M), though he surely would have gotten more as a free agent. Cain was three years older than Tanaka is now when he signed.

Six years, $100M
No pitcher in baseball history has signed a contract in this neighborhood. The closest are Kevin Brown (seven years, $105M) more than a decade ago and Adam Wainwright (five years, $97.5M) a few months ago, but that extra year changes everything. Both guys were over 30 when they signed as well. I’m including this contract in the post just because we need something between the FanGraphs crowd and…

Five years, $77.5M-82.5M
C.J. Wilson ($77.5M), A.J. Burnett ($82.5M), and John Lackey ($82.5M) territory. This has become the benchmark for very good and occasionally great starters, innings eaters who fit best as the number two guy in their rotation. All three of these guys signed their contracts after their 30th birthday, however. Tanaka just turned 25 in November and that’s a huge part of his appeal.

Six years, $51M-$60M
These are the contracts Dice-K ($51M) and Darvish ($60M) settled for when they came over to MLB. It’s worth noting Darvish can opt out of the final year and $11M of his contract if he meets some Cy Young voting criteria. It is very hard to see Tanaka settling for a deal of this size. Even five years and $51M-60M seems light. We can never really rule out this type of contract, but it is worst case scenario (for Tanaka and Close) kinda stuff.

* * *

Tanaka’s eventual contract is tailor-made for a poll, so let’s do that. Just to be clear, this poll is asking how much you would give Tanaka, not how much you think he will eventually receive. I’m curious to know how you folks value him, not how you think teams will value him. FanGraphs did that already. Is that clear? Good. Vote away.

UPDATE: I broke the poll somehow. Please enter your vote again. Thanks.

What's the most you would offer Tanaka?

  • dp

    5 years for 95 million…

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I think the Fangraphs contract is about right in the upper limit of what he should be getting. Anything else is just getting caught up in the potential madness and taking on way too much risk.

    I believe vicki cited the Dave Cameron article as to how much prospects are “worth” a few days ago, and drawing a parallel here. I guess my issue is that I completely disagree with Cameron. Xander Bogaerts or whatnot is not “worth $100 million” to me. It just seems like potential-hugging to the absurd extreme as mental exercise.

    Still, there’s the acknowledgement of a strong likelihood of Tanaka being a very useful pitcher for the next several years before we really start thinking of overuse, etc., and I do think he should get paid based on that.

    • Preston

      The flaw in Dave’s argument is that top prospects aren’t usually available on the FA market. Tanaka at 25 would probably rank in the top 5-10 range, so Bogaerts is “worth” more. But Bogaerts isn’t available. If top 10 prospects were available in FA all the time it would depress the price because teams wouldn’t feel that this was there one chance to get a guy of this caliber in his prime.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Bingo.

        • JohnnyC

          Frankly, has Cameron ever been right? I’m sorry but his opinions are slightly less ludicrous than those of a typical Seattle high school sophomore.

    • nsalem

      Cameron’s arguement was that we are now paying players for what they may become and that the days of paying players for what they were are over. Unless I’m missing somehing his theory seems to have been refuted by the Cano, Choo and Ellsbury signings. Unless he believes that Cano will be worth $24 million per yearat age 41 and Ellsbury and Choo will be worth $20 million per at at 36 or 37 (not quite sure). If giving Bogaerts 100 million is potential hugging can’t the same be said for giving Tanaka 150 million. We have seen Dice-K come over at the same age with similar numbers fail miserably after one decent year and one great year. It’s an incredibly risky proposition, but I think due to his potential someone is going to take it and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his price go for as high as 150 million. The Yankkes have done their homework. If they feel it’s worth the rish I hope they go for it.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I think it’s very hard to prove that, though, exactly for the reasons Preston says. These young guys continue to be under team control, and it’s likely that, in a hypothetical scenario under which they’re all on the open market, prices get driven down due to supply and just plain luck of the draw of guys succeeding.

        I don’t think those three singings apply. There’s a track record on all three players. That’s more same-old-same-old to me.

  • TheEvilUmpire

    I may be in the minority, but I believe there will be at least one team willing to roll the dice and gurantee that 7th year in order to sign Tanaka. There’s nobody comparable on today’s pitching market unless someone is willing to pay through the nose to pry Price away from Tampa. Obviously that isn’t going to happen for the Yanks, so its Tanaka or nothing.

    I’d do it, but then again its not my money!

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      It’s not our money, but even the “richest” of teams are only going to be willing to hand out so many big contracts at one given time. How much Tanaka gets, and how effective he turns out to be, is going to have an effect on whatever franchise he signs with for a while. You can only spend yourself out of so many issues.

      I’m hearing a lot of “it’s not my money” lately on here, and I think it’s a reaction of sorts to seeing some spending after what we perceived to be being frugal last offseason.

      • The Great Gonzo

        Agreed, but the frugality last season was in one part the $189, and in another part was the pure lack of real options last season.

        Sure, Swisher would have made us better than IchiWells in the short term… And in hindsight having Swisher at 1B instead of LoverBay woulda been kind of awesome…

        But outside of him, who? Napoli? Drew? Bourne? Victorino??? Bucket load of meh.

    • ChrisS

      Depends on the money. IIRC, Tanaka would still be subject to the 6 years till free agency rule. A 7th year buys out what would be Tanaka’s first year of free agency, right? I think that’s why a lot of the guess for the contract length are at 6 years.

      At 31, Tanaka may still be a highly sought after FA and could command a bigger contract. A numbers game, I guess.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        He’s a free agent the moment the contract he signs is up. If you sign him to a three-year deal, you don’t keep team control through arb years and whatnot. His deal is his deal.

        • TheEvilUmpire

          All of the big Japanese stars who have come over in recent years have had clauses put in their contracts that prohibit teams from offering arbitration.

  • Frank

    Third option- 5 years, 77-83M. That’s more than fair for an unproven ML pitcher.

  • Betty Lizard

    6 years 144 million Hamels Greinke blah blah blah fishcakes.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Did you just call me “fishcakes?” You can’t even see what my butt looks like.

      • Betty Lizard

        TWOP

  • Kosmo

    I would go 5-6 years at 16 million per. So between 80-96 million plus the 20 mill posting fee.
    I might add IMO this is still a gross overpay for a potential #2 SP. Some speculate he´ll command something in the neighborhood of 120 to 140 million over 6 years. I would back off at those prices.
    Combined NY could sign Garza and Jimenez for around 85-100 mill spread over 4 years.

    • The Great Gonzo

      There is a legit chance that Garza and Jimenez are never anywhere as good as Tanaka going forward.

  • mitch

    I’d go 6/120 + 20. I’m caught up in the madness.

    • CS Yankee

      This!

      Locic would dictate something like 6/50 (plus a posting fee); as he isn’t Darvish or Dice-K notable…reality is if you’re not willing to drop 100M$, you might as well not go to the auction.

      My guess, 6/105M$ plus the 20M$ totals a 125M$ NYY commitment, Arte or Jack-Z counters with a 140M$ package, but he goes to the NYY where Matsui’s locker and a bag of porn await.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Yeah. There’s going to take a bit of madness to lock him down. I think sticking to what we think is purely reasonable is a sure-fire recipe for watching him pitch in Chicago, or whatnot. The question is how much you’re sold on having him, and how much madness you’re willing to indulge in.

      You could say they played it pretty damn safe with the Darvish bid which, at this point, is apples as oranges as far as process goes, but look where it got them in the court of blog commenter public opinion.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Apples AND oranges.

      • mitch

        Exactly. If you pick anything less than 6/100 you’re basically saying don’t even get involved. He’s going to get overpaid. Given the Yankees pitching situation and availability/future availability of good starters, I think he’s worth the risk.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Would you give him CC’s money, though? There’s a point in which he’s not worth the risk, to me.

          I’m willing to play in riskier waters here than I even was with Darvish. There is a point where there’s too much madness, even for me.

          • mitch

            Probably not, but ask me again if he’s close to signing with the Red Sox.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Be careful going down that rabbit hole. :)

            • The Great Gonzo

              EXTREMELY valid point.

          • http://ladylovespinstripes.com Kate Conroy

            How can anyone say Tanaka isn’t worth it to the Yankees???

            The Yankees will be a more competitive with Tanaka, as heading into Spring Training with the current pitching staff is reckless.

            Plus if Hal Steinbrenner decides not to spend on Tanaka, ticket sales and TV ratings will continue to plummet . Fact is if Tanaka winds up just so-so, he will draw fans to games and to watch on TV. Not to mention all the Japanese companies that will want to buy advertising in his respective new home too.

            At least signing Tanaka guarantees an upside for the Yankees….and why go on shopping spree, like the Yankees did only to stop now.

            The bullpen is not in good shape, and if last season taught us anything it was that counting on injury-prone veteran stars to stay healthy all season is crap-shoot.

        • Kosmo

          The 2015 FA crop of SP is very good.

          • Chip Rodriguez

            Assuming they all get to free agency.

            • nsalem

              I think if Tanaka signs at a ridiculous number most of them will opt ofr free agency, Whose to say someone won’t want Kershaw for 400 million.

              • Chip Rodriguez

                Tanaka’s promising, but he’s still unproven in MLB, and there’s a risk for any team. So while I can see the 6/120m contract, I don’t think he’ll get anything much higher that would go into really crazy territory.

                As for Kershaw, it’s not unreasonable that he could get a spectacular extension from the Dodgers, who aren’t pinching pennies and might rather lock him up at a huge price than risk free agency.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  You’d think, on Tanaka, but if the crazy bidding one-upmanship actually does play out, all it takes is one team willing to trump the others to enter Crazyville.

                  Agreed on Kershaw. I don’t think he gets to free agency. I think you’re much more likely to be seeing the second-tier types like Masterson out there.

                  • CS Yankee

                    Totally disagree on Kershaw…

                    they tried to lock him up already and he turned them down twice which screams Cano all over again…whereas both were Boras guys when they turned down team talks (not offers, but talks themselves).

                    These are players who believe in their capabilities and want to create the market where they choose their own destiny and get all the press in the process. They don’t really care too much about the laundry they wear as it is a cold business and they realize the only reason why their team wants them is to make money off them. Therefore, they need to go where their (talent) business makes the most for them.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      Was that whole Kershaw 300 mil thing really confirmed? It still felt like rumormongering to me.

                      You may right. He may be dead set on testing the market. Holy moly.

  • Reggie C.

    6/$102 million.

    Would even give Tanaka an opt out window after year 4.

    If Tanaka is one of the AL’s best starters by end of year 4, i think most Yankee fans will be fine with paying once more for his services.

    • Mike HC

      Good point with the opt out. I can definitely see Tanaka trying to negotiate in an out an opt out clause. Maybe use the CC template of a 7 year deal with an opt out after 3.

      • Mike HC

        “in an out an opt out” … I might have had a mini aneurysm mid sentence there, ha

    • The Great Gonzo

      No they fucking won’t. Everyone went bird shit when CC, with the better track record, opted out and got ONE MORE year added to his contract. And he delivered a Pennant. And then he got hurt and the world went bananas on him.

      While I don’t disagree that in the circumstances it would be the right move to make, no one here (save for a few) will co-sign on it. Let teh kidz play, they’ll scream…

  • Mscott

    I’m starting to flip-flop on this. If it’s going to take $150M I’d rather have Jimenez AND Garza.

    • mike

      agreed – the Yanks need quality innings with pitchers that can be competitive in the AL off the bat…. and IMO having Sabathia/Garza/Kuroda/Nova/Ubaldo/ (Pineda/Phelps/Manny etc)is a 90+ win rotation…if sabathia or Kuroda or Nova is crappy this year, there is no chance anyway, but having a deep, solid rotation is the key to getting into the playoffs each year.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      I think I might be on this train too.

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

    I voted for the empty option just for humor.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Attaboy.

  • blee

    I’m actually surprised w/ all the high numbers… guy hasnt pitched a single inning in the majors yet…

    I was thinking more closer to Darvish’ contract.. w/ a couple more mil a yr cuz of the leverage…

    Max I’d say is 15 per for 5 yrs.. but really more like 60 over 5 years..

    20 mil a yr for a guy who hasnt pitched in the majors before?! jesus!

  • Mike HC

    Gotta agree with the masses. 6 for about 120, plus the 20 mil posting fee sounds about right. Overpaying is the name of the free agent game right now.

  • Chip Rodriguez

    No complaints with the 120/6. He’s young enough that I don’t see the length of the contract being an issue, and quality pitching’s become expensive.

  • Batsman

    The question is NOT “How much would you offer Masahiro Tanaka?”; rather it’s how much do you NEED Tanaka?

    Whatever the number of years his contract will be, my guess is that he’ll earn 20 mil/year. MLB agents are not just bid-takers, they actually know the value of their client. If a team offers his client a substantial amount over his actual value, the chances of him being signed increases. So if the Yankees offer Tanaka (say…..) 22 mil/year for 7 years, Close would take a big chance if he didn’t accept the offer right away.

    Just look what happened to the Choo situation. The Yankees offered him Choo more money than Texas; Boras counter-offered, negating the Yankees’ offer; at the end Choo ended up having a lesser offer in Texas.

    Again, the question isn’t how much would you offer, it’s how much you need him.

    • Kosmo

      Good points. Beginning to think shelling out 25-30 million per season over 4 years for Garza and Jimenez makes more sense. There are at least 6 proven very good to excellent 2015 FA SP anyone of which NY might consider signing.

      • nsalem

        I would rather have Jiminez and Santana. Santana for 6 of the last 8 years has been incredibly consistent in his innings pitched and his ability to deliver quality starts. He has been top 20 in that department for 6 of the last 8 years.

        • Kosmo

          i should have included Santana in the mix. I would agree he´s been “incredibly consistent“.

    • nsalem

      Nobody in baseball (except maybe the Dodgers) has enough starting pitcher so you can argue that everybody would need him. Another question that can be posed is how much does a team need to win? Ithink the Yankee’s along with the Dodgers and Angels are nearthe top of that list.

      • nsalem

        and the Mariners

  • Kosmo

    I see SP like Sabathia and Kershaw having to wait until their 9th and 6th years respectively to earn a big payday and then someone like Tanaka waltzes onto the scene conceivably earning 20 mil a year not having thrown an MLB pitch ? It all seems rather bizarre to me even by MLB standards.
    I like Tanaka but at 20 million a year ? Absolutely sick money.

    • Preston

      He has been a professional baseball player for 7 years.

    • Havok9120

      Standing on principle isn’t really a good option in this market climate.

  • TWTR

    Whatever it takes. This is a team that set money on fire for worthless players like Wells, Ichiro, Youkilis, and Hafner. So it makes sense to spend more than any other team on a young pitcher with a big upside, which is exactly what they need. And, they need Tanaka to make their other spending worthwhile.

    • Farewell Mo

      This.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      So spending money badly before means you have to continue doing it?

      Let me guess, player development….

      • TWTR

        If all the media reports are to be believed, the Yankees have made Tanaka their #1 offseason starting pitching priority and are willing to potentially exceed the $189m threshold to sign him.

        Can we agree on that?

        So then the issue is what is the difference between the minimum and maximum that they think they would have to spend in order to sign him.

        Let’s say it’s $50m

        That expenditure has to be weighed against the level at which they think they can compete without him v. the level with him, and how much marginal revenue would likely be generated by competing at a higher level.

        Taken together, I don’t think you can reasonably call it “spending money badly,” and that doesn’t factor in the additional cost of the prospects/players they might have to give up to trade for a comparable player.

        As for development, you seem to think that regularly dismissing its importance actually reduces its importance. Whatever. Rinse. Repeat.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          “If all the media reports are to be believed, the Yankees have made Tanaka their #1 offseason starting pitching priority and are willing to potentially exceed the $189m threshold to sign him.

          Can we agree on that?”

          Of course. I’d say that’s pretty hard to argue against.

          “Taken together, I don’t think you can reasonably call it “spending money badly,” and that doesn’t factor in the additional cost of the prospects/players they might have to give up to trade for a comparable player.”

          I’m not calling signing him spending money badly. I’m saying that the team doesn’t have to continue a precedent which you think wasn’t good because they had done so before. You cited Ichiro, Youk, and Hafner, not me. I’m willing to give him 6/120.

          However, as I’ve said numerous times, there’s a difference between a big contract and “whatever it takes,” and I’m not willing to go that far in what I’d say I’d do. I don’t agree with this “limitless money can compensate for bad signings” idea IF this were go south. I am pretty sure, from reading your past comments, you’d agree with a good portion of that.

          “As for development, you seem to think that regularly dismissing its importance actually reduces its importance. Whatever. Rinse. Repeat.”

          Nope. I just think people who like to mention it every other comment as the LCD are far too impressed with themselves. It’s damn important.

        • http://ladylovespinstripes.com Kate Conroy

          The Yankees have been developing their farm system since the Red Sox won the WS in 2004, and it has rotten. Yankees have the luxury of being able to spend money and develop their farm system at the same time.

          You can get great players in the later draft rounds, and develop them but the Yankees cannot seem to do either of those things right. Hence, the farm system suffers….

  • ChrisS

    I disagree that the Fan Graph masses have been accurate. They’ve been in the ballpark, but nearly every contract has been more (in dollars or years or both) than what they’ve guessed at.

    And right from Dave’s post: “As a general rule, the crowd has been consistently too low on large contracts …”

  • pat

    I’d prefer 6/100, but I think it’s 6/120-124 that gets it done.

  • Farewell Mo

    Tough situation since the Yankees are almost forced to overpay him if they plan on putting a playoff contender on the field in 2014.

    We’ll see if they’re serious about fielding a contender or if they’re pulling a James Dolan keeping things just interesting enough to fill some seats

    I think he ends up with 6/$120

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Why does it have to be either/or? The team is not endebted to make decisions they don’t feel are in their best interest just to fill every hole when we want them to.

  • Mr. Roboto

    A hundred gazillion

    • LarryM Fl

      You maybe correct but my guess is slightly lower than a gazillion.

  • GrouchoNYY

    5 @17 for $85
    $5 million buyout versus an additional two years at $20 per.
    Contract effectively is 5/90 or 7/125.

    Either party can exercise the buyout.

  • Eselquetodolosabe

    I voted, 6 / 120-124mm. I think the actual will be 7 years, @ 18mm per, 126mm + 20mm posting. With the obligatory peripheral language. i.e., opt outs, no trades, performance options & buy-outs, etc…, as far as the absurdity of Tanaka’s contract, in lieu of 0 MiLB or MLB history, is it really shocking that teams (more than a few) would seemingly make such an irrational investment ? Two words; “TV Contracts”. Jeez, even The Mariners are spending like drunken sailors. Until, and IF, the influx of TV revenue dries out, these “absurd” contracts will be the norm. Bartender, ‘nother round for me and the boys…., mak’em doubles and put it on KC’s tab !

  • LarryM Fl

    6 years and 100 million, the money is approximate. I would go slightly higher to finish the deal. You can not pay Tanaka in the CC territory. He has not earn his MLB earning rite at this time. In 6 years he will have proven or disproved his worth but my advice to him his major markets which will have the ability to upgrade their rosters and still afford him. The Yankees, LAA, LAD seem to have this bankroll. The Red Sox do it but lack the stomach to carry through with a plan of this nature.

  • Reggie C.

    Seeing lots of 6/120. For Tanaka to land a AAV deal of $20 million , his people would really need to engage more than just the Yankees and Seattle. I’m not sure you’ll find the Dodgers or Texas game to go into that territory.

    If the Yanks had to go into that 6/120 range, I really hope there’s NO opt out window nor NTC in the contract. I imagine there’s a calculable value to an opt out window. Can’t give Tanaka either clause IMO if we’re giving him Hamels money.

    • Reggie C.

      Egh…. I mean Matt Cain money.

  • Greg

    The correct answer is “whatever it takes to sign him”. It means going over $189M, so who cares what it takes.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      189 really isn’t much of a factor here. It’s about how much resources, which could go to other pieces, are you willing to invest in a player that comes the type of risk he comes with.

      If he fails, and you’re on the hook for 7/161 or whatnot, you’re going to care about how much it took when the team isn’t willing to spend $300 million on payroll to compensate for Masahiro Zito in the corner.

    • mitch

      I think most fans would consider going over 189 an added perk.

  • mt

    I voted 6 years at 120-124 – if it gets really crazy, I could see a 7th year in a $19 million AAV contrcat ($133 million) with opt-outs.

    The problem is that Yanks need him or someone like him to be competitive in 2014 – I could see the above at the breaking point. If it goes above that for Tanaka, I could see Ynaks switching to Ubaldo at 5 years at $88 million with a relatively easy vesting option for a 6th year.

    • TheEvilUmpire

      Ubaldo gives me visions of AJ Burnett

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Naked.

        • The Great Gonzo

          In a bathrobe looking like Buffalo Bob…

          Not Buffalo Bill, Buffalo Bob. Yeah, Joe Dirt. Suck it haters.

  • Ben

    Why is 7/145 not an option. that is what I would offer.

  • Bubba

    6/100. With the posting brings him in at a slight premium to Darvish for a potentially slightly lesser pitcher. Not sure why we would compare him to pitchers who have had success in MLB. His comps should be Dice-K and Darvish.

  • dkidd

    eleventy gillion

    then get ubaldo!

  • 42isNotMortal

    I’d rather overpay Tanaka than either A) Overpay Jiminez or B) Depend on Phelps/Pineda for two out of every 5 turns. Phelps/Pineda are necessary depth with an aging, questions laden staff, but ideally, neither should be in the Opening Day rotation.

    Even with a perfectly healthy and effective best case Pineda, he’s still going to be limited to 140-150 IP. If the 5th slot is open, I’d start with Phelps and use Pineda in long relief for a couple of months to keep the innings down. 6/125 + 20 gives them a very strong offer at least.

  • Brian

    Who cares about signing him to a “smart contract”? The Yankee advantage for years has been the ability to sign players to bad contracts and get away with it. If 189 is out the window, and they are as enamored with him as reports suggest, they should do whatever it takes to sign him.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      When have the Yankees truly been able to successfully compensate for the entirety of a long-term contract, signed by them?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        (one truly gone bad)

      • Brian

        It probably depends on your definition of success. I’m referring to their ability to maintain record level payrolls due to their revenues.

        They were able to sign CC, Tex, Ells, McCann, Beltran, all while under the shadow of Arod’s contract.

        • Brian

          Other terrible ones were Igawa, Pavano, Wright, & Burnett.

          Burnett wasn’t considered a smart contract when they signed him. Oddly enough, the worry was more about health than performance. You could deem it successful due to the WS in 2009, but they ended up paying him to pitch for someone else just to get rid of him.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Good choices, although none of those are of the size I had in mind, with perhaps the exception of Burnett, and we could argue that the team wasn’t really able to compensate for him. He was a burden on the rotation at times, and we were still paying part of his salary when he was out at Pittsburgh.

            We were able to get out of Wright because we traded him for Britton, who I will forever be flat-out wrong on. The team struggled throughout Pavano’s contract to put five consistent starters out there, all while paying him for a broken ass, toenail, and an icantbelievehefuckedalyssamilanodiedie muscle.

            They’ve been able to sign other players with Alex under contract, but can we can say that those players have made up for what an effective, healthy Alex Rodriguez would have provided?

            This is what I’m talking about. Those contracts either weren’t that big in scope or haven’t been ones that the team has been able to cover up for with other players.

            Fuck Carl Pavano. I hate that man.

            • Brian

              I understand your point completely. I really don’t think there’s anyway to get fair value back on a big free agent deal. Just look at the big FA deals the Yanks have given out: Arod, Giambi, Tex, CC. I don’t think you can say anything of those have guys have or will be able to live up to the contract. Mussina is certainly the outlier.

              The only other long term, big mega deal I can think of that has worked out (not just the Yankees, but anybody) is Jeter’s. While I’m certainly not saying that Tanaka has the same track record or is as deserving of a mega contract as Jeter was; the one similarity they have is age. The Yanks (and every other team), have the ability to land a 25 year old pitcher who may POTENTIALLY (key word there) be a solid #2 starter throughout his prime years.

              The risk with this signing isn’t age, like most other free agents, it’s uncertainty over how his game translates over. If the Yanks have scouted him as extensively as is reported and are sold on him, there’s less risk than some of other deals they’ve thrown out there.

  • JGYank

    7/135. Which Is crazy for an unproven player but I think that should land him and we really need a sp. I wouldn’t give him 20M+ since he reportedly has asked for 17 and he’d already be getting 7 years. He’s only 25 so I’m willing to go 7 but if he doesn’t work out that’s 7 years of another terrible contract.

  • Bob Buttons

    5/125 or 6/150. I think he’d like to hit FA around 30-31 so he is not likely to accept too many years or I’d offer 15/270~300.

    It’s not what I want to sign him with but what I would offer him so obviously the higher the number the more likely he signs, and how often does a potential #2 hit the market? It’s a pretty large gamble but I’ll take it 9 times out of 10.

  • Chris

    …That is of course unless you pay me… one-hundred… billion… dollars!

  • Caballo Sin Nombre

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a fairly unusual contract. Relatively small guarantee (4/$60) but with a lot of upside– player opt-out after 3 years (which the club could buy-up for an extra $10M), plus $25M club options for years 5 and 6, maybe year 7. With the small posting fee, this is really an unprecedented situation.

    • Havok9120

      No chance. Even if all the teams started with such an unorthodox contract model, one would be willing to give a standard guaranteed contract in the 5/90-100 range and then the bidding would move up from there.

      The most unorthodox thing we might see is an opt out in year 3-4 so that he can negotiate another new contract before he hits 30. I just think he’s got too much leverage for any contract games beyond that.

  • Kvothe

    Worrying about AAV is more important than length here, assuming you believe in Tanaka’s ability to compete in the MLB. Most FA’s that hit the market are in their late 20’s or early 30’s, and you’re paying for a few prime years and then the decline.

    So, he’s only 25. Length, in terms of 5 vs 6 vs 7 or even 8 (!!) years isn’t as big of a deal, because you are, in theory, going to get all of his prime years and few years of the decline phase.

    Unless, of course, you think the Japanese workload is going to cause him to decline earlier than expected.

  • CS Yankee

    Thinking about how crazy things are in this process of getting the guy who can;
    A) Be a solid MLB pitcher in the AL East…maybe 15-10 w/ a 3.75 ERA
    B) Be a stud, help win #28 and contend for CYA…20-9 w/ a 2.70 ERA
    C) Have trouble and needs adjusting…10-8 w/ a Hughes’ish ERA

    Make a 1/30M$ offer with a 5 year option that avg 17M$ a year (totals 135 with posting.) Reason that they are betting 50M$ that he can help win a WS in 2014, and if he doesn’t cut it in NY, he can re-enter FA or head back home.

    A 50M$ one year gamble is better than ruining the roster for the next half decade because he turns into Kei. Yes, its batshit insane, but hardly more than a 125-200M$ gamble on a guy that doesn’t throw the same type of baseball, hasn’t pitched every five days, is moving into a new country and hasn’t faced big MLB bats.

    • OldYanksFan

      That’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think Tanaka goes for it. Under those conditions, if he bombs his first year, even as a FA, it would cost him tens of millions.

  • OldYanksFan

    I think there is a big difference between what a player is ‘worth’ (based on WAR and comps to similar players), and what they can get in the MLB market… which, for above average players, is always inflated by 1 or 2 desperate GMs.

    From what I’ve seen of Tanaka, and his comps to other Japanese SPs, I think over a long timespan (5+ years), he will be a solid #3 at best. He MAY be a #2 for a year or 2, but almost every Japanese SP has declined after year 2, when the league has a chance to thoroughly scout him.

    There are major differences between the approach of batters in MLB vs the Japanese league. This difference has historically lead to far less Ks, more BBs and more HRs against MLB hitters. It seems to me that Tanaka sits around 91… which is nice but not outstanding. He tends to throw his FB up in the zone, which scares me. I don’t know how much movement he has on his FB. If it is on the ‘flat’ side, he is Phil Hughes with better secondary pitches.

    To me, he is ‘worth’ $16m/yr, hoping he is a consistent 3 WAR pitcher.
    However, it’s obvious he will get more.
    And in this case, the most desperate GM may be Brian Cashman.

    I might open up with a 7/$125 bid. It’s more than the $17m/yr he ‘asked’ for, and the extra $5m (over 6/$120m) allows for a $2.5m lower AAV and maybe looks like we want him more.

    While money seems to always be the top priority (see Cano, Robinson), I think for Japanese players, there are other considerations.

    Are the Yankees a ‘Legend’ in Japan?
    Does our brand give us more appeal?

    Frankly, we are the most desperate, as he might take us from ‘probably NOT making the PS’ to ‘MAYBE making the PS’. Considering the Yanks look serious about making the PS (see unwise contracts to Ellsbury and Beltran… unwise for the NOT desperate), my guess is Cashman does what it takes… probably 6/$126m or more. Add in the $20m posting fee, and it’s a kick in the ass.

    But we may not have a choice.

    • Mike

      He is a number 1 or 2 pitcher.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        More of a Number 2 according to most.

        He isn’t Darvish.

  • Mike

    Offer him the Sabathia contract and be done with it.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    I voted 6/120. It’s a lot of money for somebody who’s never pitched in the majors but you’re never able to sign a 25 year old starter that could be a stud and you only pay for his prime years. I’d even give him 7 years if they can reduce the AAV that way.

    No matter who signs him will risk quite a lot of money but there’s a good chance that he’ll be worth every cent. I just know that I wanna see him in pinstripes next season.

  • Matt

    This guy is 25 years old. If you are thinking 120 for six… Why not try to go 160 for ten. Control him for the best years at 16 million per year. I love the fact that he is 25 and his best years are ahead of him. Think of the decline in ability when we sign a 31 year old free agent.

  • Cool Lester Smooth

    6/$144 at the absolute maximum.

    #notmymoney

  • qwerty

    I honestly don’t believe that Tanaka is worth more than 50 million over 5 years. His scouting report leaves me with some doubt.

  • The Great Gonzo

    I originally said 6/120-124, but the more i sit here and contemplate it, I would be just fine with something in the 22M per range… That puts me in 6/132-ish?

    Fuck it, I’d still rather with Tanaka than any combination of Jiminez/Garza/Phelps/Arroyo/Eddard/Betty Lizard/Ben Kabak’s Hat.

    • chris

      Yeah I agree that I’d rather have him than the other guys. Yankees have a chance to get someone who is essentially a top 10 pitching prospect. When was the last time the Yankees had a top 10 pitching prospect? Andy Pettitte? Brien Taylor? Maybe Wang (I don’t remember)? Since they compete every year and we have to resign ourselves to low draft picks, I say do what it takes to get high upside international prospects to compensate.

      As for him possibly being a bust? Yeah, that’s true, he could be. But, then so was Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez and Carl Pavano, so maybe we shouldn’t sign any more long term deals with free agent SPs? Ok ok, I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I think you do what you need to do to get young talent of that level.

      Bottom line is this: if the Yankees sign high risk high reward guys like Tanaka, Darvish, Puig etc., people get mad because they want the sure thing FAs. But if they turn around and sign Ellsbury to a long deal, then people complain about the deal being to long and too much money for an older guy with injury history blah blah. You have to do one or the other if you’re going to be competitive and with more and more free agents being offered extensions and not hitting the market, I say go with the high risk high reward international prospects.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        To answer your question, I’m going to go there….I’m going to say it…..please, God, don’t make me say it….

        Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.

        I made a point above about Pavano that resonates here. We didn’t the bulk of Brown’s contract, and Javy was a pretty short-term bust for us. This is a very different scale. Not saying I disagree with you, but we are underestimating what this going bad means around here.

      • bg90027

        The last top 10 pitching prospect that the Yankees had was Manny Banuelos in 2011. Before that, it was Phil Hughes who was once the best pitching prospect in baseball. There’s a reason why prospects aren’t generally paid like proven talent. Pettitte and Wang actually weren’t ranked that high if memory serves.

        I generally oppose going aggressively after top Japanese Pitchers for that reason. It’s high stakes gambling. These aren’t normal times though. If the Yankees refuse to rebuild, they might as well aggressively pursue Tanaka. I wouldn’t personally go higher than 6/110 though and I’d prefer that they get creative with a lower base like 5/60 but with generous incentives that would increase the AAV to 20+ if he logs 175 IP per year regardless of performance quality and would pay him even more generously if he actually pitched really well. Give him an opt out after 3 years if you have to if you can keep the base salary down. If he ends up being great and costs over $100 million for 3 years and departs, then fine. I’d rather have that happen if I could cut the guarantee from $140 million to $60 million.

        Committing nearly $150MM in salary and posting fee to a player who has never pitched in the majors though is just too much for me.

        • chris

          I hear you both and I don’t disagree. All I’m saying is, if there is 1 team in baseball (aside from Dodgers and Rangers apparently) that can absorb the cost of a bust like this, I think it’s the Yankees. Not saying we should and not saying it is a good idea to spend big. I’ve been recommending rebuilding for awhile now actually, but I don’t think this ownership is willing to lose that much in the way of revenue to scale back that much and go into full rebuilding mode. So since that is the case…

          I think if the rumors about Seattle preparing a monster offer are true, we should compete within reason. If it gets to Cano outlandish numbers though, throw in the towel. He’s not worth THAT much.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I said this above to someone else, but I think we overestimate any team’s ability to absorb a large, bad deal. It still hurts. It’s still time given, and lost, to giving chances to a player over and over again because of their salary. I don’t think the Yankees have really done better than others in that regard.

            That being said, I don’t think Tanaka’s that sort of bust.

            • Brian

              I think it’s different with pitchers though. They aren’t clogging up lineup spots like position players.

              I think the real question here is whether he’s a #2, or a #5. Granted, it would suck paying a #5 starter $20M a year, but they really could use some youth with potential in that rotation.

              • Chris H

                It’s much easier to hide a bad hitter in a lineup than a bad pitcher clogging up a rotation spot… Burnett.

  • dicka24

    I would offer somewhere inside of 6 years at $90-100 million. I think it will likely be somewhere around 6 years and $120 million. It seems as if it’s a virtual guarantee to be $120 million deal, or about $20 million per year. Kinda insane for a guy who’s never thrown a pitch in the majors, but it is what it is.

  • Nathan

    I think with the premium on young elite pitching, the Yankees are going to have to go the upper end of a contract, possibly something ridiculous. With the hype of Tanaka, his stats and age, he’s something special.

  • chris

    Rumors on MLBtraderumors say that Seattle is preparing to offer him something huge. I’m going to be REALLY pissed if they steal him from us too. But if they offer him a contract as ridiculous as Cano say 7-8 years at 200MM, what can you do but throw in the towel?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      There is no way in this goddamn world I give him the number you just cited. Let Seattle self-destruct in a season and a half.

      I also think that may just be lazy journalism. The Mariners overpaid for one bigtime guy, so just assume they’re going to overpay on everyone until the narrative’s been run into the ground.

      “The Mariners are going to offer big” is the new “Mid-priced FA’s are the new commodity because of the Sox” is the new black.

      • chris

        I hope very much that you’re right and completely agree.

  • jakegibbs4ever

    Let’s do whatever it takes — I’m fine with 7 years at 20 mil, 23 mil, it’s all good. The guy’s as surefire as they come.

    The Mariner thing (I live in Seattle) all comes down to upper management (i.e. corporate Nintendo and thick-headed CEO Howard Lincoln). Jack Z will spend whatever they let him, because another losing season and he’s history… after a decade of abject futility there’s intense frustration and desperation in Marinerland. I only agree with “throw in the towel” if Seattle goes much over 25 mil a year (and I don’t think they’re desperate enough to do that). Of course, “throwing in the towel” is how tons of frustrated clubs have felt about our getting top FA’s going back to Catfish and Reggie.

  • RetroRob

    I’m late on the poll, but if seems like there needs to be another option for seven years. The earlier choices for five and six years have AAV’s of around $20 million or even lower. For seven years the AAV is a minimum of $23M and as high as $25/26M. I can certainly see a seven year deal being offered, but a team will be trying to get the player with perhaps a slightly lower AAV in return for more years. The poll seems to assume the opposite.

    I defaulted to six years and 120.

  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

    You’re asking an odd question, Mike. How much “would” I give Tanaka, regardless of whether or not we’d get him?

    Less than 50 mil, of course. Any higher makes no sense.

  • Chris H

    Why is he as sure fire as they come? Because someone said so on MLB Network? The truth ks most of the talking heads hyping him have never even seen him pitch a full game just highlights and word of mouth. The truth is he’s as big a risk as they come, just saying he’s guaranteed to be a number 2 at worst doesn’t make it so.

    According to yahoo who tracks velocity, pitch location, and selection he averaged 90.6 MPH for his career in Japan and 90.8 MPH in 2013 that’s extremely average in the states. The only pitch he has scouts agree on as plus is the split, which is easier to layoff of when he’s averaging less than 91 on his fastball. He also throws his 2 seam primarily up in the zone like Igawa did. This guy isn’t Darvish and even if he’s better than Dice K the room between those two is huge and likely no where near worth 120+ million. Add in the work load, pitcher per inning, and the stupid long (sometimes as many as 400 pitches) bullpens in spring training and between starts, before 25 and I’m all aboard the let him be someone elses problem train.

    From what I’ve seen, read, and heard, my gut feeling is he ends up a high 7 K/9 and low 3 BB/9 guy, which probably makes him a decent number 3. That’s a nice arm to have but not one to engage in a bidding war for just because he’s mysterious. I think some team is going to go crazy and regret it veryquickly, I just hope it’s not the Yanks. I’ll take Jimenez who gets a bad wrap amongst Yankee fans.