I Think I'm Turning Japanese
There may still be big deals in the offing and intriguing names on the free agency wire but none more so than Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka. The 25-year-old hurler is being dangled by the Japanese team whom owns his rights, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, for the tidy sum of $20 million. That's right, if any MLB team has a yen to add this starting pitcher it will have to pony up big time before even signing the Japanese sensation.
Tanaka was an astonishing 24-0 with a stunning 1.27 ERA in the Pacific League. Many compare him favorably with the best Japanese imports to date. If a team has an extra, oh let's say, $100 million over six years hanging around then they could consider adding not only a potential ace to their staff but a workhorse as well. Tanaka has 1,315 innings already under his belt which is virtually identical to the innings tossed by 32-year-old Adam Wainwright. But his arm appears none the worse for the wear and if one considers the success of perennial Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish or the stamina of 38-year-old Hideki Kuroda then the potential for yet another Japanese product in the rotation is even more tantalizing.
The usual suspects are rumored to be considering taking the plunge. Big money teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers are the primary contenders for Tanaka's services though Boston may be a bit reluctant after shelling out over $50 million simply to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006 to a six-year deal that lasted about four years too long. No matter, it looks like Tanaka will be plying his trade in the big leagues this season but we will just have to wait a bit longer to see with whom.
Stephen Drew Still Out There
Somewhere out there a big league team needs a defensive wizard at shortstop and though it's not exactly hip to shell out big money on a player who brings little to the plate (pun intended) it is a core fundamental to be defensively strong up the middle. The Red Sox refused to sit such a player in Stephen Drew during their World Series run despite his anemic performance in the batter's box. However, even his former employer has hit the pause button on forking over $14 million per annum on a 30-year-old who has been prone to injuries and doesn't come equipped with a big bat.
Unfortunately for Drew, the market appears to be shrinking for shortstops as most teams are pretty well set at that position. In addition, the team signing him would have to tender a draft pick to Boston as compensation. Though the Mets have expressed a passing interest in Drew they appear to be more willing to go with their 24-year-old youngster Ruben Tejada. It is looking more and more like the Red Sox may get their shortstop back at a price and term they can live with while shuffling hot prospect Xander Bogaerts between short and third.
Odds & Ends
The Yankees are rumored to be hot to deal Ichiro Suzuki with San Francisco as a potential landing spot.
Former All-Star Johan Santana may be close to signing a minor league agreement with either the Twins or the Astros.
It is widely speculated that pitchers Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jiminez and Ervins Santana are still hanging on the vine because teams are jockeying to negotiate with Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka.
The Orioles are reportedly eyeing closer Fernando Rodney but if they cannot come to terms then don't be surprised to see Tommy Hunter as the designated fireman. If Rodney does sign with the O's then Hunter could be part of the starting rotation.