Monday, November 11, 2013

Masahiro Tanaka may be a tough fit for Phillies

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
@Philabaseball

Over the coming weeks you will hear a lot about Masahiro Tanaka. 

The 25-year-old right-hander finished this past season with a perfect 24-0 regular season record, coupled with a 1.27 ERA for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan's Nippon Professional baseball league. His lone loss of the year came in a 160-pitch outing in the Japan Series. 

Masahiro Tanaka may be a tough fit for PhilliesTanaka is the best pitcher not playing in the United States, but that may change as reports from Japan indicate the Eagles are going to offer Tanaka on the market later this month.

Yes, the Phillies are in the market for pitching depth, but before buying Tanaka shirseys fans should know he may be a nearly impossible catch because of the dollars he's going to command on the open market.

First, the Eagles still have to post Tanaka to open the bidding process. Problem is, Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have yet to work out the new details on the posting system. In the past, teams placed blind bids on players with the highest bid earning the right to negotiate a contract with the player. The Japanese club losing the player would pocket the posting fee. Now, MLB wants to limit the amount teams spend on bidding as it does not count against the luxury tax.

Regardless of the structure of the posting process, officials believe Tanaka's posting fee will exceed $65 million. For perspective, the Rangers paid nearly $52 million to obtain the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish when he was posted prior to the 2012 season. The Rangers went on to ink Darvish to a six-year deal for $60 million.

In addition to the exorbitant posting fee, the Phillies also will have to deal with the Dodgers, Angels, and Yankees as potential suitors of Tanaka.

Several sources close to the Yankees have hinted that beyond resigning Robinson Cano, Tanaka ranks high on the organization's priority list. The move makes sense too considering the posting fee would not count against their luxury tax figure.

"Of course Tanaka would look great at Citizens Bank Park, he keeps the ball down and knows how to pitch," said one rival National League scout familiar with Tanaka. "But, let's face it though, the Phillies have some money issues they need to work out and I can't see them coming close to the big players on that posting fee."

- Patrick Gordon is Managing Editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Follow him on Twitter @Philabaseball.

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