Well folks, it finally happened, the Rakuten Golden Eagles of NPB (The Japanese Baseball League) have finally gotten around to figuring out what to do with their young starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, they have posted him. Under the new MLB-NPB posting system any team willing to pay the $20 million posting fee can enter into talks with Tanaka. Tanaka will then have to choose a team and that team will then have up to 30 days to sign him to a deal. If he signs, and all indications are that he will (for upwards of $100 million), the team will then have to pay the Rakuten Golden Eagles the posting fee of $20 million in addition to any salary commitments agreed upon with Tanaka.
News of Tanaka’s posting broke late Christmas eve as Santa was out delivering presents to the children of the world, and as of this morning he has officially been posted. The posting period will end on the 24th of January at 5pm eastern time if no agreement is reached and Tanaka wil return to the Golden Eagles in 2014. With the new agreement and the relatively low posting fee (compared to past top-tier talents: Daisuke Matsuzaka ($51.1 million), Yu Darvish ($51.7 million)) many teams are expected to be in on the talks, including the Minnesota Twins, but only the big time players (Yankees, Angels, Dodgers) are expected to have a legitimate shot. I’d be willing to make a sizable wager that he ends up on the West Coast, where he will be closer to home and where there are a number of teams willing to pay the hundreds of millions it will cost to sign him to a lengthy contract.
In addition to his sparkling 24-0 record for the Golden Eagles last season, Tanaka also racked up 183 K’s in his 212 innings of work to go with only 32 walks. Tanaka has pitched 150+ innings in each of his seven seasons for Rakuten and has a 99-35 career record. Although he may not be a true ace, he has the makings of a 1 or 2 pitcher and would look great at the front of any rotation across MLB. Tanaka will be 25 for all of the 2014 season and has what are typically deemed to be his best years still ahead of him.
The Twins payroll currently sits just under $83 million, so signing Tanaka is not out of the question for Terry Ryan and the Minnesota Twins. While highly unlikely, you would hear no complaints in Twins Territory if Tanaka ended up in Minnesota before all was said and done.