NEW YORK -- Arigato, Masahiro.
Because one of the collateral effects of the new posting rules between MLB and the Nippon Baseball League -- aside from the fact that the relatively "affordable" $20 million posting fee is attracting a lot more players into the sweepstakes for Japan's best starting pitcher -- is that it is practically guaranteed it will drive up the price for the three blue-chip starters still out there in the free-agent market.
At this point, there's no way Garza, Jimenez or Santana are going to sign with anyone before they see how much Tanaka goes for. And since it is widely assumed Tanaka and his agent, Casey Close, are seeking, at minimum, a five-year, $100 million contract, this will serve as a belated Christmas present for the other three, whose agents will base their asking prices on Tanaka's final numbers.
According to a baseball source, a bunch of teams, including the Yankees, have made their initial inquiries to Close, but all expect nothing substantial to happen until sometime after New Year's Day. According to the source, as many as 10 teams could be in on the bidding for Tanaka, attracted by the bargain-basement posting fee. Aside from the Yankees, the teams expected to at least kick the tires on Tanaka are the Red Sox and the Blue Jays from the AL East, both Los Angeles teams, the Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros and yes, the Yankees nemesis in the Robbie Cano negotiations, the Seattle Mariners.
Obviously, not all of them will be serious bidders but there promises to be enough of them to insure that Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Japanese champion Rakuten Golden Eagles last season, comes away with probably the most lucrative contract ever given to a Japanese pitcher.
That may be bad for the Yankees, and any other team that plans to make a serious run at Tanaka, but it is of course very good for him -- and good for the three American pitchers who remain on the board, rooting for Tanaka to break the bank.
QUESTION: How do you feel about the new player-friendly posting system? In the long run, will it help or hurt the Yankees?