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Report: Rakuten planning offer to keep Masahiro Tanaka in Japan

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On Monday we learned that ownership of the Rakuten Golden Eagles had given consent to coveted right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to pursue a career in the United States. That seemingly put an end to the mystery of whether or not the team would post Tanaka this winter, therefore making him available for all 30 MLB teams to bid on.

Not so fast, says Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. Apparently Rakuten isn't ready to give up the fight just yet, and are planning on offering Tanaka a large chunk of change in hopes of keeping him around for at least one more season.

That's $8 million in U.S. dollars, which equates to 800 million Japanese Yen.

A contract at or above $100 million is awaiting Tanaka if and when he decides to make the move. It's not likely the Rakuten offer will make him budge on his desire to pitch in MLB in the upcoming season, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility, either. Whether it be a sense of loyalty to Rakuten, or a gamble on pushing his value even higher, Tanaka may at least consider the deal under the condition the team makes him available next winter.

Of course, many believe Tanaka isn't motivated so much by money or loyalty as he is the challenge that awaits. Assuming that's the case, Tanaka will likely be saying thanks but no thanks to the offer. There's absolutely nothing left for the 25-year-old to prove in Japan after going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 2013, whereas the adjustment to MLB and the pressure of living up to the incredible hype would undoubtedly prove to be the big challenge of his baseball career. If it's the challenge he seeks, his decision is a no-brainer.

At the end of the day, this latest report will probably fade away as quickly as many others on this story have over the past several months, but it's also a reminder nothing is set in stone until Tanaka's posting becomes official. Based on the twists and turns we've seen so far, there may be several more miles left to travel until Tanaka reaches his destination.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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