When prized Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka was officially posted on Dec. 26, it was expected that most, if not all 30 teams would go ahead and post the maximum $20 million bid ahead of the Jan. 24 signing deadline just on the outside chance they might be able to woo him to their organization.
Of course, for most of those teams that line of thinking would be more wishful than realistic, and it appears at least one of them is willing to admit as much with the deadline to sign Tanaka now less than three weeks away.
That team, according to the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, is the Boston Red Sox.
A major league source tells the Globe that while the Red Sox are impressed with the talents of RHP Masahiro Tanaka, they do not expect to be contenders for his services.
Abraham didn’t expand on the item too much in his piece, but it can be safely assumed Boston’s starting pitching depth has them feeling comfortable enough to save the money that would be necessary to land Tanaka. With Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster all in the fold, that‘s already six pitchers competing for five spots and a lot of money already committed to the position.
It also indicates Boston won’t be making plays for free agent pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana this offseason unless the price drops into a reasonable range. If anything, Boston could actually look to flip the extra starter for a bat or prospect once the free agent market plays out. With prospect Allen Webster waiting in the wings, the Red Sox could seemingly afford to be aggressive.
As for Tanaka's outlook, though one big market team appears content to bow out of the bidding it doesn't really change anything. The Yankees, Mariners, and Dodgers are all viewed as his most likely suitors, which means he will be paid handsomely. The Cubs and Diamondbacks are expected to make strong plays as well, so we may already have a pretty good idea which teams will soon join Boston on the outside looking in.
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