Thursday, 26 December 2013
I've been away from my computer for like three days, and have only gotten the push notifications from The Score on my phone, stating that Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. As a closet wrestling fan, this is a natural image to put in here, and I'll make the obligatory apology if someone has already used Tanaka/Tatanka. I know I'm not that clever, so it's either not funny, or someone else has at least thought of it already.
Anyway, yeah. Tanaka got posted. This is good news for us. It will be great if the Jays go ahead and land this guy, but even if they don't, we'll at least get to see some resolution to the pitching market and the offseason in general. Beyond Tatanka, we've yet to see Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana find homes, and the end of the Jeff Samardzija saga isn't quite upon us yet either. Justin Masterson's name has come up, albeit very briefly, in trade talks this offseason, and even lesser-cared-about quantities such as Paul Maholm, Bronson Arroyo, and Jason Hammel are kicking around as well. And hey, given the cost of pitching these days, maybe we'll see another trade target open up too. Plus, a team like, say, Detroit or Washington could go and surprise everyone and pick up one of the above free agents and create a logjam in their rotation, turning someone in to a candidate to be moved. It's gonna be tight y'all.
I think the big thing to focus on, at least today, is Tanaka. He's sure to be the prized pig of the pitching market this offseason, in that he's got some pretty favorable comparisons, and he's (essentially) a free agent at age 25. For comparison's sake, Garza just turned 30 last month, Jimenez will turn 30 next month, and Santana just turned 31 two weeks ago. There's a really good chance that Garza, Santana and Jimenez have already thrown their best season of their career when it's all said and done, and that they're set to sign a contract to take them through their age-34 seasons. Tanaka is probably going to sign a deal to take him through age-31 or -32, which is a pretty huge difference.
I'm not going to begin to say that I know enough to determine who is best here-- my personal opinion is that Garza is better than Jimenez, who is much better than Santana, but I don't honestly want any of them at 5+ years and $15+MM per. It all makes my stomach turn. I am, however, oddly comfortable with Tanaka on a 7/100 deal or something. Not sure why I feel so much better about an unknown entity, I just do.
Anyway, here's a video of one of Tanaka's starts, compressed to weed out the rifraff. There's a great big grain of salt to season this with, and that is the fact that Tanaka has been a pretty dominant force against a fairly non-MLB offensive force over in Japan, but he still looks pretty good in this video. I could handle seeing this guy every fifth day. For anyone who needs the conversion, Tanaka is sitting 88-94 with his fastball in this start, if that gun is accurate.
Here's another mashup of all of his 2013 strikeouts.
And here he is finishing out the Japan version of the World Series, coming in and getting the save in the closing game. If I'm not mistaken, he had thrown 160-some pitches the day before, and he comes in firing 94MPH gas first thing. Dice-K used to do stuff like that.
As far as rumors, I definitely haven't seen anything other than fan blogs that suggest anything about the Jays and Tanaka. I'm sure they'll at least check in and see what the cost is, since they apparently do that with everyone, but I'm sure we're only going to hear about the usual suspects for at least a while-- Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, etc. Gabe Kapler is predicting 7/$125MM, plus the $20MM posting fee. That's $20MM up front, and then an average of just under $18MM a year.