Let the games begin.
Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka is in Los Angeles meeting with – or having already met with - MLB teams, which include the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, and Diamondbacks, among many others, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He reports the pitcher is seeking $100 million or more in a free agent deal.
Nowhere in his article does Heyman suggest the Phillies are part of the discussions, although they’d be foolish not to be. With Rakuten in Japan last season, Tanaka finished 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA. The team signs him will add a $20 million posting fee that goes to his Japanese team, but will not count against the cap.
Back in November, I suggested the Phillies make a play for him in the event that Cliff Lee is dealt in the next few seasons. Tanaka is certainly a risky proposition but would bolster the Phillies staff should they decide moving Lee is better for the long term, while allowing him to team with Hamels at the top of the rotation for many years. That would make the transition from Lee much easier in the future.
It seems unlikely the Phils will spend much more than they already have this offseason as Ruben Amaro Jr. has shown an unwillingness to offer long-term contracts as his aging team’s payroll currently sits around a rough estimate of $165 million for 2014. At nearly $20 million per season, Tanaka would balloon the payroll near the luxury tax of $189 million.
Is Tanaka worth the investment? Or are the Phillies wise in standing pat and waiting out some of their longer-term deals over the next few seasons while spending wisely?