Just as the looming Alex Rodriguez suspension announcement affects the Yankees next season, the outcome has a large affect on them, too.
If the Yankees can land Masahiro Tanaka, their $300 million plus shopping spree will very much justified, and they’ll be a much better team on the field next season. If they fail to land him, their rotation won’t be as strong as most of the other teams in the AL East, and their $300 million will have been a waste because this team still isn’t good enough to win a championship.
The Yankees’ ability to land Tanaka could also have a direct impact on whether or not Brett Gardner is playing left field for the Yankees on Opening Day, or if he’s, let’s say, starting in center field for the Cincinnati Reds.
As much as the Yankees want to say that they have no intention of trading Gardner, not signing Tanaka would still leave them without at least one much needed starting pitcher, and with the free-agent market not exactly to the Yankees’ liking, trading for a starter would be the only way to go, and Gardner is the most valuable trade chip on the team.
With six outfielders currently on the roster, the Yankees would like to move at least one of them, and trading Gardner to get back a starting pitcher would be one way to go. But with the said, the Yankees will only trade Gardner if it gets them a starting pitcher.
As for what is happening with Tanaka at the moment, recent reports say he’ll start meeting with teams this week, and two of the first teams he’ll met with are the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs.
Now that Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, who also represents Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, talks between the coveted Japanese right-hander Major League clubs will start to pick up this week, so meetings with clubs can be expected.
The Cubs have shown just as much interest in signing Tanaka as the Yankees have this winter. They’re expected to be big bidders for him just like the Yanks, too. However, their need for him at the moment, and total amounts of cash they can throw at him are nowhere near the Yankees’ needs and cash flow.
We’ve seen how much the Yankees have spent this winter, and I wouldn’t expect them to stop now that they’re biggest target is finally on the free-agent market. Not only that, but for them to add a young pitcher like Tanaka, who just turned 25, could set up their rotation to be very good at the top for years with him and the solid Ivan Nova.
Of course, the Cubs and White Sox aren’t the only teams that he’ll met with. At some point the Yankees will get their turn, and according to ESPNNewYork.com, “there still has been no significant contact between the Yankees and Close, but that is expected to change soon.” Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels have shown interest, as well as the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners, who could be heavy bidders, too.
And here’s a little interesting tidbit of information that was passed on by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal yesterday: The $20 million posting fee on Tanaka will be paid to his Japanese club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, in two separate payments over two years. The team that signs him will pay $13 million this year, and the remaining $7 million next year. Not that the $20 million is a lot of money to teams in the first place, but it could help the small market teams get a little more involved.