Players who have earned the right to become free agents factor in many things and have their own reasons for why they sign where and with whom they do. It was during the courting of C.C. Sabathia, that is became known that his spouse preferred that he play and live on the west coast. For awhile, it seemed the Yankees might lose out on Sabathia to a team like the Angels, Dodgers or closer to his native Bay area roots, the Giants. After several trips to the Big Apple, and the assurance that the Sabathia family would enjoy life in New York, he signed on the dotted line. Many point to the poor treatment of Cliff Lee‘s wife as a visiting spectator to Yankees’ games against her husband, for his choosing to return to the Phillies rather than taking the money and coming to the Bronx.
The New York Yankees could find themselves in a similar situation with their pursuit of Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. While it is widely believed that Tanaka will receive a contract in excess of $100 million dollars, there now appears to be an X-Factor that could sway Tanaka to select a team on the west coast–most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Yankees. The Yankees are believed to be one of three teams that Tanaka has on his short list of possible suitors, but it could come down to glitz and glamour over dollars and cents. Now it’s time you are introduced to Mai Satoda, a 29-year-old pop singer who has aspirations of continuing her career in the United States. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Tanaka chooses the Dodgers for his wife. Remember Wayne Gretzky? Yes, the “Great One” helped end a hockey dynasty in Edmonton because his wife, Jennifer Jones wanted to live and work in L.A. to help improve her acting career. The rest as they say, is history.
While New York is a far cry from Kansas City, Satoda’s desire to increase her personal fortune and level of exposure could absolutely be the determining factor. What can the Yankees do to prevent this? They have build their entire offseason plan around signing Tanaka, and now must convince Mrs. Tanaka that there are just as many entertainers who make their homes and work in the Big Apple as there are in Los Angeles. Satoda has stated that her “goal” is to be on the west coast. This is where a west coast family like the Sabathias, could perhaps get involved in the recruiting process, and share their love of New York with a young couple like the Tanakas. Mrs. Tanaka also need to realize that in terms of marketing and exposure, nothing will ever top New York. We’re not even sure that there is a market for her talents in the United States. That’s a big decision and gamble to make when Tanaka knows he is going to be the primary bread-winner in this family. The Dodgers have stated they won’t be outbid for Tanaka. We may have to sit back and see if Hal Steinbrenner truly has any of his father’s gumption. The last time I looked, George rarely lost out on any player he truly wanted.