Everybody knows that the Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the front runners to acquire the services of Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka but very few actually believe the team can win the bidding war. Tanaka who went 24-0 last year with the Rakuten Golden Eagles is commanding $17-$20 million dollars a year to pitch in the Majors. The Diamondbacks are a small market team and many baseball experts believe the team will not be able to out bid the other two front runners, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees who are both looking for a starting pitcher. Sure, the D’backs have plenty to offer to Tanaka. They have an outstanding defensive team behind him when he is on the mound, and they offer a great place to live. But very few see money as an advantage for the Snake at least until now.
Fox Sports MLB reporter and insider Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the D’backs are prepared to pay the $20 million dollar posting fee and then offer Tanaka a contract upwards of $120 million. Now you are probably saying, “Are the Snakes spending that much money on a player”? Most people forget that the D’backs currently have their highest payroll since 2002 and they need a young starting pitcher that can be their ace for the future. Just imagine a rotation that includes Archie Bradley and Tanaka. Here is why Rosenthal would say this: before Arizona acquired Mark Trumbo at the 2013 Winter Meetings, the D’backs were prepared to spend big on Choo. While the team didn’t make him a formal offer, Arizona was entertaining the offer. Here is what Rosenthal said in his column from January 3rd on FoxSports.com:
“Choo’s agent, Scott Boras, had informed teams that they only could enter the discussions by bidding in the seven-year, $140 million range, sources said. The Yankees reportedly made such an offer. The D-backs, after including ownership in their internal discussions, were open to the idea, sources said. Tanaka, however, remains the D-backs’ No. 1 target. Club officials do not expect to meet with him in Japan; the pitcher’s agent, Casey Close, is discouraging such visits, sources said. But at this point, the D-backs expect to stay involved in the bidding, according to sources; the deadline for Tanaka to sign with a major league club is three weeks from Friday. Any team that signs Tanaka must pay a $20 million posting fee to his Japanese club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. If the pitcher’s total salary reaches $120 million, the total outlay would match the $140 million that Boras wanted for Choo — money the Diamondbacks were prepared to spend.”
Kevin Towers is considered to be one of the most aggressive G.M’s in the majors so don’t be surprised if the Dbacks continue to pursue the Japanese righty. The Diamondbacks were either going to trade for a starting pitcher and sign a free agent power bat, or trade for a power bat and sign a starting pitcher. Well they traded for Trumbo so now its time for the team to sign a starting pitcher. Sources close to the Arizona front office continue to say that the D’backs consider Tanaka better than Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and all the other free agent starters. The D’backs would prefer to not give up more prospects and draft picks so Tanaka is a perfect option. Don’t be surprised if Arizona signs Tanaka with the latest reports saying the Diamondbacks are at the front of the negotiations for him. Sure, the D’backs might end up losing to the Yankees and the Dodgers for Tanaka but the idea that Arizona isn’t prepared to spend a lot of money to get him is absurd. The D’backs had money for Choo and they have money for Tanaka. Keep in mind, the Yankees and Dodgers have the luxury tax to deal with. Tanaka isn’t the best fit for Arizona for my opinion, but he would be a great pitcher to add to the rotation and the latest reports seem to say that the chances of the team landing him are increasing.