Note: This is part of our Hot Stove Talk series, which profiles free agents and looks at possible trades the Texas Rangers could make this offseason.
Today's player: Masahiro Tanaka
The Rangers would love to pair another front-line starter with Yu Darvish, and there is an opportunity to go back to Japan for that pitcher. His name is Masahiro Tanaka.
Much will be said about Tanaka in the coming weeks. Unnamed scouts will say he's better than Darvish. Others will say he's not. It's up to the Rangers and other clubs bidding for Tanaka to decide if he's worth $100 million or even more two years after the Rangers spent $110 million on Yu Darvish. Well spent dollars we might add.
Tanaka had a superb regular season in Japan, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan's Nippon Professional baseball league. One American League scout that covers the Pacific Rim said Tanaka has one of the best split finger fastballs he's ever seen. Tanaka is a strike thrower.
But overall Tanaka isn't considered to have the talent or the flair of Darvish. Do the Rangers put up big dollars for another Japanese pitcher and get involved in the posting system and the bidding war that could ensue. That's a decision general manager Jon Daniels and Co. will have to make in the coming days and weeks.
Why he makes sense: The Rangers signing of Darvish has been a success and Tanaka looks to be another talented pitcher who should do well in the major leagues. The success of Hiroki Kuroda and Hisashi Iwakuma also lends credibility to the ability of Japanese pitchers to make the transition to the big leagues where lineups are deeper. Tanaka to go with Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Matt Harrison would give the Rangers one of the top rotations in baseball.
Why he doesn't make sense: The bidding for Tanaka could and likely will be higher than for Darvish. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks are considered to be potential suitors. Tanaka is considered to be a No. 3 starter -- maybe a No. 2. That could be to high a price to pay when a No. 1 starter, such as David Price, is expected to be on the trade market.
Bottom line: The Rangers should pass on Tanaka and go after Price. From the talk in the media, it appears the price will surpass what they paid for Darvish. The Rangers would be better off spending their free-agent dollars on offense.