One week ago, all indications pointed towards the Rakuten Golden Eagles team not posting and not allowing right-handed stud Masahiro Tanaka to become available to MLB teams.
MLB and the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan agreed on a new posting system earlier this month that made $20 million the maximum amount any team can bid on any player posted.
The new agreement was seemed as a great benefit for players coming over from Japan, as MLB teams will have more money available and teams will compete against one another to sign a new player which means more money for the player.
The new agreement, thought, is seen as a great deterrent for NPB teams that make it less attractive to let go of their best young players as they will not be able to cash in on those players as they once did with Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish that were both posted for over $50 million.
With the new predicament, reports came out of Japan about the Golden Eagles’ reluctance to post Tanaka up for bidding, but Tanaka’s desire to come over and prove himself in the States gave them no choice but to grant his wishes and posted him.
In lieu, the bidding for Tanaka has begun and all 30 major league teams were notified that the 30-day period to sign the star 25-year-old right-hander began at 8 a.m. ET Thusrday morning, according to MLB spokesman Michael Teevan. Clubs now have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 to attempt to reach an agreement with the ace.
There is no team that needs Tanaka’s services more than the New York Yankees. With the Yankees struggling all season long with their miserable pitching in 2013, things aren’t getting any better for next season as CC Sabathia continues his downward trend. Andy Pettitte has retired, Hiroki Kuroda looked great the first half of the season but was ineffective during the second half, Phil Hughes has signed with the Minnesota Twins, Ivan Nova showed glimpses of greatness but who knows what pitcher he will be moving forward, and Michael Pineda is still trying to recover from his shoulder injury from two years ago.
The starting pitching rotation is a major concern at the moment; having solidified their lineup despite losing their best player in Robinson Cano, the next order of business is to solidify the rotation.
What better way to strengthen the staff then to bringing in a 24-0, 1.27 ERA pitcher that won the Japanese championship last season.
Tanaka is said to have better stuff than Darvish and Darvish just finished second in the AL Cy Young race this past season, so Tanaka seems to be an elite pitcher in the MLB sooner rather than later.
Slotting him behind Sabathia and Kuroda will allow Tanaka to ease his transition to the majors and will allow him to not feel the full burden of carrying the Yankees’ staff in his first season here.
The Yankees need to outbid the competition and not be out-‘Yankeed’ as they were with Cano, in order to not miss the postseason once more as they did last season for only the second time since 1995.
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