After about a week of posturing, the pitcher who has generated the most buzz this offseason will now be available to all 30 Major League Baseball teams. The Rakuten Golden Eagle have announced they will post right handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, giving the 25 year old star a chance to pitch professionally in the United States. There are a host of teams eager to land a guy who may very well become an ace by the end of the 2014 season. One of those teams is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have made it (indirectly) clear that signing Tanaka is a huge priority. So we leave our trust in General Manager Kevin Towers.
It is now your move, Mr. GM.
The reason why the movement on free agent pitchers came to a screeching halt is because of the process of making Tanaka a free agent dragged on for weeks. In that time we have seen the D’backs linked to either trading for Jeff Samardzija and David Price or being a fit for Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza. Towers has resisted all overtures on every pitcher. He has gone on record as saying that he wouldn’t sign any pitcher past three years but be willing to make an exception for Tanaka. That tells me that the Snakes are all in for the Japanese sensation and are willing to get into a bidding war for him. The question is, how far should Towers go? Yu Darvish, the player most compared to Tanaka, went for a posting fee of $51.7 million dollars and a contract for six years, $60 million. When combing the posting fee and total amount of the contract, that averages out to be between $22 and $23 million per year. the posting for Tanaka will be $20 million. Would the D’backs go to say, a 5 year, $75 million dollar contract on top of the posting fee? It is hard to tell what the market will be but I can see Towers going up against the big market teams and offering a very competitive deal.
The one thing I don’t want to see is the GM talk a big game and then duck out of the bidding process early. Towers can’t say two days into the frenzy, “This is too rich for us”. If he goes hard and heavy and gets outbid by the Rangers or Yankees, so be it. The D’backs have to show their fans they are serious to land the big prize. Otherwise, the moves already made this offseason will leave an already jaded fan base with even a lower opinion of Kevin Towers.