Tanaka, 25, went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season in Japan. The Rakuten Golden Eagles are planning to post him for MLB teams to bid, and the Yankees are said to be the team to beat.
Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan says the Yankees are “going to be bold” when it comes to bidding on Tanaka. This is actually in contrast to their anticipated approach for most of the big free agents.
It’s widely known that the Yankees are trying to get under the $189 million payroll mark to reset their luxury tax penalty. With that goal in mind, the Yanks are unlikely to throw around big money this winter. But Tanaka is a different story and could fit in with their plan. That’s because the bulk of the money they pay will go towards a posting fee, which will allow the winning team the right to negotiate with the pitcher. The posting fee is expected to be at least $75 million, which is 50% more than the fee for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish. The actual contract Tanaka receives will likely be for a low average annual amount because of the fee, which will make it easier for the Yanks to stay within the $189 million threshold.
The Yankees still have CC Sabathia, who is fading as an ace, and Ivan Nova, in their rotation. Michael Pineda could also be back for them. In addition to Tanaka, they could be in on free agents Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Dan Haren, per Passan. I think Garza makes the most sense of the group; he’s already pitched well in the AL East, and he wouldn’t cost them a draft pick. But their strategy to go in on Tanaka makes plenty of sense.
Below are video highlights of Tanaka if you want to see what he looks like: