COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees want Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka. Badly. Everybody knows that. Will they get him? Tanaka has to make a decision by Friday, when the $20 million posting fee is due to be paid to the Rakuten Golden Eagles by the MLB team that wins Tanaka's services.
Five teams have reportedly made formal contract offers to Tanaka.
Let's break down the pros and cons of each team reportedly in the running for Tanaka's service. We will save the Yankees for last.
Pros: Imagine what a hero Tanaka would be, in both Japan and in Chicago, if he was to pitch the lovable loser Cubs to a World Series title. He would be the big draw in Chicago and the center of attention.
Cons: These are the Cubs, and Tanaka would be likely to end up pitching in irrelevance. The Cubs may also not be able to match what other competitors, like the Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, are able to spend. There are also reports that Tanaka is looking for a place with a strong Japanese community. Chicago does not seem like that place.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Pros: The Dodgers seem to be willing to spend whatever amount of money they need to. They are in the process of making the Yankees look thrifty. The Dodgers are obviously willing to spend money. LA is an easier flight to Japan than New York, and it may also suit Tanaka's wife, who is a singer. Clayton Kershaw just signed for seven years in LA, and Tanaka would not face the pressure of being expected to be the No. 1 starter.
Cons: When, exactly, is the last time the Dodgers won anything? They are currently throwing money around like they own a printing press, but the franchise has not exactly been a pillar of stability in recent years.
Pros: The Diamondbacks have been fairly secretive about what their pitch to Tanaka will be, other than offering him a pile of cash. They can't simply build their whole pitch around the weather and the fact that the NL West is a pitcher-friendly division. I'm not sure exactly what the Diamondbacks are selling here.
Cons: The Diamondbacks are unquestionably the small fish trying to swim in the deep end of the pool in the bidding for Tanaka. They might have enough for him, but do they have money to attract other players? The marketing opportunities for Tanaka and the ability for his wife to build her singing career also don't seem to be available.
Pros: I really, truly don't know. It sounds like anti-Chicago sentiment -- which it is not -- but you guys tell me why Tanaka would go to the White Sox.
Cons: They're the White Sox. Why go there when you have other, better options?
New York Yankees
Pros: They are the Yankees, and they can clearly match any amount of money the Dodgers, Cubs or anyone else chooses to spend -- if they want to. The marketing opportunities beyond his contract will be greater for Tanaka in New York than anywhere else. There has been plenty of word that Tanaka's wife, a singer, is concerned about building her own career. New York City is a great place to do that. The city is a melting pot of American, and there will be a large Japanese community there that should help Tanaka and his wife adjust to America.
Cons: Pressure. Every pitch, every move, everything Tanaka does will be dissected beyond anything Tanaka has ever experienced if he comes to New York. Hideki Matsui and Hiroki Kuroda succeeded in pinstripes, while Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa came over from Japan and did not. There will be huge expectations. It's really a question of whether or not Tanaka is OK with what will be a constant glare of attention.
-- Ed Valentine is editor of Big Blue View, covering the New York Giants for SB Nation. He writes about the Giants and Yankees for Yahoo Contributor Network. Ed can be followed on Twitter @bigblueview.
- Sports & Recreation
- Masahiro Tanaka
- New York Yankees
- Chicago Cubs
- Los Angeles Dodgers