The clock is ticking down for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to sign with a Major League club — he has until January 24th at 5pm EST. Nikkan Sports in Japan has reported that all clubs interested in signing Tanaka have submitted their formal offers.
The list of teams that have reportedly made an offer includes the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks.
All offers made to Tanaka are in excess of $100 million, and Nikkan reports that the D-Backs have offered six-years, $120 million. The Yankees and Dodgers are believed to have offered similar deals, but the terms and money amount are unknown. Ken Davidoff of the NY Post says that the Yankees have made a “very aggressive” offer, though.
According Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM in Chicago, one of the biggest keys for where Tanaka signs if that he ends up being very close to a large Japanese-American community. New York and Los Angeles are both very big in that department — both the Yankees and Dodgers and also, reportedly, the leading favorites to sign the righty, with the Cubs trying to make a big push, and willing to throw a ton of money at him.
However, reports from as recently as Saturday night have said that the Cubs are basically a “long-shot” to land Tanaka.
“I think a lot of teams are interested,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said at the owners meetings this past week in Arizona. “This is a great, young pitcher. I’m sure he’ll come here and do great things with someone. We certainly have an interest. I believe we need another starter. But we’ll see what happens.”
Tanaka is the top starter on the Yankees’ radar. There hasn’t been much interest in any of the other top starting pitchers on their market. A report from Newsday in New York on Wednesday, the Yankees don’t plan on making anymore moves until the Tanaka situation is resolved.
“I can only tell you we’re in the market for another starting pitcher,” Steinbrenner said, “and (Tanaka) is certainly going to be one we’re looking at.”