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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Feinsand: Yankees must go all in on Masahiro Tanaka or lose international arms race

Screw Aaron Small…“it’s hard to dismiss a 24-0 record”.

It’s time for the Yankees to stop being international spectators.

The Bombers have watched from the sidelines in recent years as teams gambled on Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish, hitting the jackpot each time.

It was easy to understand the Bombers’ hesitation, the wounds from the Kei Igawa disaster fresh in their minds seven years later. The statute of limitations is over. It’s time to jump back into the big-money international market, with a do-whatever-it-takes approach to signing Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka.

...Tanaka obviously doesn’t have the same track record as any of these pitchers, but it’s hard to dismiss a 24-0 record and 1.27 ERA at any level, let alone in Japan’s Pacific League. Scouts say he’s easily the best available starter on the market this winter, better than Matt Garza, better than Ubaldo Jimenez and better than Ervin Santana, each of whom is seeking a contract worth about $100 million. The Yankees have done their homework on Tanaka; several scouts have gone to see him pitch, most notably assistant GM Billy Eppler, Brian Cashman’s top lieutenant.

... Barring a big bounce-back by Manny Banuelos following Tommy John surgery, the Yankees have no starters coming through the pipeline they feel they can count on. The pitching has to come from somewhere, and for $100 million, you expect more than you’ll get from B-level guys like Garza, Santana or Jimenez.

Doesn’t it make more sense to take a little risk with the possibility of a great reward?

Adding a 25-year-old would-be ace like Tanaka feels like the perfect tonic for the Yankees, not only for 2014, but more importantly, for the rest of this decade.

 

Repoz Posted: December 26, 2013 at 06:41 AM | 53 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, yankees

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   1. TRBMB Posted: December 26, 2013 at 09:10 AM (#4624019)
Cashman has a top lieutenant? What does he do, protect the inept little guy after another of his pitiful drafts? Or help him with his only skill, cash delivery.
   2. bjhanke Posted: December 26, 2013 at 09:11 AM (#4624020)
I just finished reading an article in the STL paper about this. Apparently the "posting fee" has been capped at $20 million. This makes Tanaka available to many more teams than could have afforded to bid before. The Yankees have a hill to climb. - Brock Hanke
   3. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: December 26, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4624023)
Feinsand is a fat doofus.
   4. TRBMB Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4624048)
Feinsand is a recognized dope in New York. He was the clown who reported the alleged breakdown of the Cano negotiations with Seattle, immediately after which the signing was announced.

CASHman, the moneyman, will outbid everyone for Tanaka, this is his only skill, so the Yankees will lose Tanaka only if he decides New York is not for him.
   5. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4624050)
I just finished reading an article in the STL paper about this. Apparently the "posting fee" has been capped at $20 million. This makes Tanaka available to many more teams than could have afforded to bid before. The Yankees have a hill to climb.


That has nothing to do with the posting fee cap, though. The Astros being able to bid on Tanaka doesn't give them much of a chance at getting Tanaka.
   6. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4624059)
Igawa went back to Japan in 2012, but I can't find any recent stats for him. Has he actually pitched the last two years?
   7. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:21 AM (#4624063)
His 2012-13 stats are on Baseball-Reference.
   8. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4624072)
#4- maybe but there are some Yankee followers who believe Hal and company will make a show of going after him but will make an offer that is easily rejected.
   9. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4624076)
#4- maybe but there are some Yankee followers who believe Hal and company will make a show of going after him but will make an offer that is easily rejected.


See, I think if they were going to do that, they would have looked for other starting pitching options already.
   10. Paul D(uda) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4624077)
International arms races are the worst type to lose.
   11. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4624079)
Agree with #9. It seems obvious the Yankees have planned all along for Tanaka to be their ace next year.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4624082)
That has nothing to do with the posting fee cap, though. The Astros being able to bid on Tanaka doesn't give them much of a chance at getting Tanaka.


But since the fee is the part that isn't applied to the "cap", doesn't this help the Astros? The Yanks have the salary cap to contend with while the Astros don't.

OTOH, I agree that this doesn't necessarily make Tanaka cheaper. The money teams used to bid on the fee + player salary will be transferred instead to player salary. So unless Jim Crane is willing to sink some money, the Astros won't be bidders.
   13. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4624083)
But since the fee is the part that isn't applied to the "cap", doesn't this help the Astros? The Yanks have the salary cap to contend with while the Astros don't.

OTOH, I agree that this doesn't necessarily make Tanaka cheaper. The money teams used to bid on the fee + player salary will be transferred instead to player salary. So unless Jim Crane is willing to sink some money, the Astros won't be bidders.


It hurts the Yankees in that they'll have to pay more if they want to sign the guy, but it helps the Yankees in that there's no more "secret bidding" for the posting fee, and they can throw the money directly at whatever player they want. It's a wash, IMO.
   14. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4624084)
But since the fee is the part that isn't applied to the "cap", doesn't this help the Astros? The Yanks have the salary cap to contend with while the Astros don't.


It makes Tanaka a bit more expensive for the Yankees but they've never done anything to suggest they aren't willing to go above the luxury tax limit. I'll be surprised if they don't make a pretty serious push here.
   15. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4624100)
#4- maybe but there are some Yankee followers who believe Hal and company will make a show of going after him but will make an offer that is easily rejected.

The Yankees are last offseason's Mets? That would be pretty funny … but it's also unlikely.
   16. catomi01 Posted: December 26, 2013 at 11:38 AM (#4624114)
but they've never done anything to suggest they aren't willing to go above the luxury tax limit


An infield with Kelly Johnson possibly being the best starter on opening day suggests otherwise....for this winter at least.
   17. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4624119)
They're already over the luxury tax limit unless A-Rod's contract isn't counted, aren't they?
   18. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 26, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4624121)
Cashman has a top lieutenant? What does he do, protect the inept little guy after another of his pitiful drafts? Or help him with his only skill, cash delivery.


If he didn't bid on every available top free agent Yankees fans would excoriate him for not using team resources to make the playoffs for a decade plus straight..

If he does, they excoriate him for the results of never having first round picks and always drafting after everyone else.
   19. catomi01 Posted: December 26, 2013 at 11:47 AM (#4624122)
They're already over the luxury tax limit unless A-Rod's contract isn't counted, aren't they?


Yes, and by a lot....to the point where Arod has to be suspended for the whole season to get under - and I think even that would only give them a couple of million dollars in leeway.
   20. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 26, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4624134)
I like Garza. I've always liked Garza. I think he'll have more MLB wins next year - the next five years - than Tanaka.
   21. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 26, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4624203)
In Rany's Grantland article from a couple of weeks ago he estimated that with arb raises, etc. they are currently at $192 million. ARod makes up $26 million of that if he plays a full season. Since the magic number is $189 million they will basically need him to miss all of next year in order to sign Tanaka (and basically nobody else) and make the goal.

Is there any way for NYY to structure a new contract so that the tax hit is softened in year one or is it a straight AAV calculation?
   22. SG Posted: December 26, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4624223)
In Rany's Grantland article from a couple of weeks ago he estimated that with arb raises, etc. they are currently at $192 million.


He didn't include the $10-12M in benefits that the team is also responsible for.

They're at $178M for 15 contracted players. They have five arb-eligibles who will get somewhere in the area of $16M. So that's $194M. Add the benefits to that and they're around $204-206M. They also have to add at least five more minimum salary players and save money for call ups throughout the year.

Even if you chop $26M off that, they can't add Tanaka and stay under their self-imposed $189M goal.

Is there any way for NYY to structure a new contract so that the tax hit is softened in year one or is it a straight AAV calculation?


Nope, straight AAV.
   23. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4624237)
What if you went the Bobby Bonilla route and tacked on 20 years at $1 million per at the end to bring the AAV down?
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: December 26, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4624245)
What if you went the Bobby Bonilla route and tacked on 20 years at $1 million per at the end to bring the AAV down?


Bobby Bonilla didnt get 20 years tacked on, his payments were just deferred into the future.

Also, Tanaka would want to be a free agent after his contract runs out, not bound for life at $1 million per (which he would lose if he voluntarily retired).
   25. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4624250)
Teams that could be in on Tanaka:

Main contenders:
NYY - if they don't mind blowing through the luxury tax
BOS - should be players
LAD - should be players, although starting pitching isn't a huge need

Possible contenders:
LAA - some accounts have them pretty close to their budget constraints
NYM - do the Wilpons have money?
CHC - seems to fit in their long-term plans, but are they willing to spend money?
TEX - tapped out after the Choo signing?
PHI - up against the luxury tax, but Amaro likes big gestures and some reports say they might go over the cap for the right player
SEA - could they double down?
TOR - some reports have them willing to spend even more to win next year and they've been quiet thus far

Long-shots:
HOU - reports were they were willing to field a $60 mill payroll, Tanaka would fit in long-term plans
CHW - should have plenty of room in budget, but they said they're done making big moves
WAS - have been quiet this winter
BAL - have been looking for pitching
ATL - could stand to add some veteran pitching perhaps?
DET - I dunno, never count them out for a surprise move I guess
   26. GregD Posted: December 26, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4624251)
SEA - could they double down?
In a way it would be awesome. Just to show there's a new sheriff in town!
   27. tfbg9 Posted: December 26, 2013 at 03:17 PM (#4624271)
Any projections on this guy? His League's ERA has been about 3.00 for the last 3 years combined, something like that. He sits 93-94 and uses his split as his out pitch, IIRC.
   28. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4624279)
Connor Jennings works a lot on projecting NPB players to MLB and says:

The current projections have him set to produce an FIP of around 3, and an xFIP of around 3.5 (xFIP projection needs a small amount of tweaking to update to a 2013 average home run rate, but should be fairly close). As far as FIP is concerned, that would put him in a tie with David Price as the tenth best starter in the league. Depending on innings pitch, that would make him a 4-5 win pitcher. By xFIP, that puts Tanaka about level with Mat Latos or Kris Medlen, which would be around 30th in the league, and a 3-4 win pitcher.
   29. tfbg9 Posted: December 26, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4624285)
Thanks.
   30. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 26, 2013 at 04:21 PM (#4624312)
I think CHC will be a contender for Tanaka. They were supposedly the second highest bid on Darvish so there's no shyness on Japanese pitchers. Additionally I think the fan base is getting agitated and Tanaka's age and position makes him a much stronger fit for their needs than any other recent big ticket FAs.
   31. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 26, 2013 at 04:47 PM (#4624326)
#25
Boston? Really?
Sure, everyone can use a #1 SP, however I think they are near their $ limit and have a number of good starters in Lester, Buchholz, Lackey, Peavy and a few prospects they can try. If they can get someone to take Dempster off their hands, then maybe, but I can't see that happening.
I'd put them in the long shots and hope I am wrong.
   32. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 04:53 PM (#4624330)
WEEI:

The Yankees, in clear need of starting pitching, have been speculated to be the favorites to land Tanaka. The Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers also reportedly have an interest in making a run at him.

   33. zonk Posted: December 26, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4624340)
I think CHC will be a contender for Tanaka. They were supposedly the second highest bid on Darvish so there's no shyness on Japanese pitchers. Additionally I think the fan base is getting agitated and Tanaka's age and position makes him a much stronger fit for their needs than any other recent big ticket FAs.


There seems to be a lot of chatter about the Cubs being aggressively interested. I hope it's true even if only so the next 3 months have more interesting Cubs conversation than "Can Castro and Rizzo get back to being potential stars?" and "Wow, Aaron Cunningham was available for free? He was once traded for Dan Haren!"

Unfortunately, the Cubs recent record on international FA pitchers isn't too goo (they signed 3 relievers last offseason and all 3 got hurt), plus there's the Matsuzaka past for Thed.... who knows if there's truth to it or just wishcasting.
   34. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 26, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4624341)
The Dodgers (and really the Angels) should be all over this. He would be huge here. I expect the Dodgers to do whatever it takes.
   35. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 26, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4624347)
I'd be surprised to see the Red Sox go particularly aggressively after Tanaka for the reasons Hugh lays out. I think if they do go hard for him you can take that as a sign that they aren't expecting to or interested in re-signing Lester for a 4-5 year deal. I'd love to see them land him but it would shock the hell out of me.
   36. madvillain Posted: December 26, 2013 at 06:10 PM (#4624372)
Any predictions on what Tanaka gets? Judging from the amount of teams that "will do anything it takes" and the influx of money into MLB I can see something crazy going down like 8 years 170 million.
   37. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4624388)
Judging from the amount of teams that "will do anything it takes" and the influx of money into MLB I can see something crazy going down like 8 years 170 million.
Anything is possible, but for a couple of different reasons, it's hard to see the Yankees topping what they gave Sabathia. And that's the largest pitcher's contract by a pretty big measure. I'd imagine Tanaka might get Cole Hamels money ($144 million/6 years) but probably not much more than that.
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: December 26, 2013 at 07:02 PM (#4624397)

"NYM - do the Wilpons have money?"

No.
and they've already said they are OUT. their credibility issues are on claiming to be in when they're not - not the other way around...
   39. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: December 26, 2013 at 07:20 PM (#4624402)
The Yankees, in clear need of starting pitching, have been speculated to be the favorites to land Tanaka. The Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers also reportedly have an interest in making a run at him.


So...the rich teams, then.
   40. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: December 26, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4624409)
I assert that every team in MLB can afford whatever contract Tanaka gets, so they should all be willing to bid on him. And as he's 25, the only way you regret that contract is if he gets hurt or isn't that good to beging with -- being "stuck" with a big contract into his early 30s is never going to be an albatross if he retains expected effectiveness -- and it can be a cornerstone of your franchise for the better part of the next decade.
   41. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: December 26, 2013 at 07:54 PM (#4624414)
Dan Duquette has already indicated that the O's will not be bidding on Tanaka.
   42. SteveF Posted: December 26, 2013 at 08:20 PM (#4624419)
Apparently there isn't even going to be a formal posting process on the MLB side. Any team can negotiate with him without putting up $20 million. That team just has to be ready to pay the additional $20 if it signs him.
   43. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 26, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4624420)
Anything is possible, but for a couple of different reasons, it's hard to see the Yankees topping what they gave Sabathia. And that's the largest pitcher's contract by a pretty big measure. I'd imagine Tanaka might get Cole Hamels money ($144 million/6 years) but probably not much more than that.

He's 25. It's rare for FA's to become available that young these days. I really think he will get at least 8.
   44. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: December 26, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4624422)
He's 25. It's rare for FA's to become available that young these days. I really think he will get at least 8.


If he's confident that he's going to be really good, there's a tremendous advantage to signing a short contract here (with terms requiring that the team non-tender him at the end of the contract) and being a free agent when he's 29 or 30. Maybe he'll make less money upfront, but his second contract would take him into his late 30s at a high salary, maybe even higher than the AAV of a contract he signs next month.
   45. ptodd Posted: December 26, 2013 at 08:34 PM (#4624423)
Boston? Really?
Sure, everyone can use a #1 SP, however I think they are near their $ limit and have a number of good starters in Lester, Buchholz, Lackey, Peavy and a few prospects they can try. If they can get someone to take Dempster off their hands, then maybe, but I can't see that happening.
I'd put them in the long shots and hope I am wrong.


Have to look beyond 2014 with Tanaka.

Dempster and Peavy make 27.5 million and are free agents after this year. They can be moved easily in this market desperate for pitching.

Lackey is a free agent after 2015, assuming he does not retire after 2014 rather than play for the minimum in 2015

Buchholz is uncertain due to a shoulder injury that plagued him most of 2013.

Lester is a free agent after 2014 and talking about Cole Hamels money.

They have prospects, but all prospects are uncertain.

They are flush with revenue after winning it all in 2013 and can sign Tanaka while staying under 189. Yeah, they are more than a long shot, depending on how they project Tanaka.
   46. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 26, 2013 at 10:42 PM (#4624446)
If he's confident that he's going to be really good, there's a tremendous advantage to signing a short contract here (with terms requiring that the team non-tender him at the end of the contract) and being a free agent when he's 29 or 30. Maybe he'll make less money upfront, but his second contract would take him into his late 30s at a high salary, maybe even higher than the AAV of a contract he signs next month.


If he were a position player I would agree with this. A pitcher ought to get every guaranteed dollar he can muster right now.
   47. Squash Posted: December 27, 2013 at 03:49 AM (#4624534)
Dempster and Peavy make 27.5 million and are free agents after this year. They can be moved easily in this market desperate for pitching.

Lackey is a free agent after 2015, assuming he does not retire after 2014 rather than play for the minimum in 2015

Buchholz is uncertain due to a shoulder injury that plagued him most of 2013.

Lester is a free agent after 2014 and talking about Cole Hamels money.


There's also a couple of major injury risks in there and it hasn't been long since a couple of those guys sucked. I'd think the Red Sox would be jumping up and down to improve their rotation.
   48. bjhanke Posted: December 27, 2013 at 07:23 AM (#4624548)
SteveF (#42) - Yes. That was in the STL newspaper article that I read. As you might imagine, the STL newspaper has a robust baseball section within the sports section. Bigger markets probably have bigger sports sections, and may have more info about baseball than the STL paper does, but the STL paper does have a high percentage of baseball coverage compared to the paper's size. -Brock Hanke
   49. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4624567)
I'd think the Red Sox would be jumping up and down to improve their rotation.


Yes, Tanaka is a guy you make room for. John Lackey ain't blocking him.
   50. SG Posted: December 27, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4624573)
If I were Tanaka's agent, I'd be pushing for an opt-out after say three years on any deal. So he can get his guaranteed six/seven/eight years but with the option to hit the market again at age 28 depending on how he's done. There's enough of a market for him that I think some teams would be willing to do it.

   51. tfbg9 Posted: December 27, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4624577)
Lackey was pretty darn good in 2013.
   52. Nasty Nate Posted: December 27, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4624590)

If he's confident that he's going to be really good, there's a tremendous advantage to signing a short contract here (with terms requiring that the team non-tender him at the end of the contract) and being a free agent when he's 29 or 30.


This applies to lots of players, but it seems very rare for them to be willing to "bet on themselves" in this way.
   53. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 27, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4624634)

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