The Yankees have a long offseason coming up, which means they have to figure out a way to plug in the crater-sized holes on a team that looms with uncertainty. According to George A. King III of the New York Post, the Yankees are tracking the Japanese market, but one player they currently seem to have their eyes on is Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka.
A scout for the Yankees was wowed by Tanaka’s performance, noting that his fastball went up to 95 MPH and throws an overhand curveball that goes at least 20 MPH slower than the fastball. Tanaka would be a huge priority for the Yankees with the departure of Andy Pettitte to retirement, Hiroki Kuroda‘s uncertain future, CC Sabathia‘s down year and the question marks lingering over Manny Banuelos and Michael Pineda.
However, just because the Yankees aggressively want him, doesn’t mean that they are the only team that is in the running for him.
“The Yankees have seen him a lot.” A talent evaluator said, after seeing Tanaka pitch for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles last month. “Boston, Texas and Dodgers will be there too. This guy is very good.”
Saying he’s “good” is an understatement: He went 22-0 with a 1.23 ERA this season, however he’s not eligible for free agency. If Tanaka is to make a MLB ball-club, he’d have to go through a posting process which can’t happen until November 1st–which is also Tanaka’s 25th birthday. However if the Japanese series goes longer than seven games, he can’t be posted until November 5th.
So now it’s time to determine just how much Tanaka is worth. One scout believes that he’s worth more than the Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish who currently has a contract worth $111.7 Million.
“He’s better than Darvish because he’s a strike thrower,” the scout said. ““Overall, Darvish’s stuff might be a little bit better, but this guy knows how to pitch. He is like Kuroda, he has a lot of guts. He throws four pitches but when it gets to [stone]-cutting time, it’s fastball and splitter.”
According to the scout, Tanaka could possibly be the best pitcher ever to come from Japan. Of course, the Yankees heard this before and it turned out to be quite the opposite (Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa). The Red Sox also took a gamble on Daisuke Matsuzaka, who faltered as the years went on, eventually ending his 2013 season with the New York Mets.
Tanaka could possibly be a gamble for the Yankees, but the main question lingering is could this signing possibly work? Well, the Yankees may never know unless they try.