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Hochi Sports from Japan has apparently reported that Masahiro Tanaka has narrowed his suitors down to just 3 teams, the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees, and yours truly, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tanaka of course went 24-0 this past season with a sub 2 ERA is probably the most coveted player on this years market because of his upside, youth, and floor. Normally one would think this to be great news, but one problem, Hochi Sports was the same media source to break the news that Tanaka was “not going to be posted”.
So this news from Dylan Hernandez makes a decent amount of sense. But there is good news in all of this, the fact that this report may still be valid coupled with the fact the Dodgers are mentioned as finalists is encouraging. Just Friday Bob Nightengale reported that the Dodgers will go “all out” on their bid to acquire the Japanese right hander, and while he did the all too familiar backtrack from his earlier report, you have to imagine the Dodgers are serious, suitors for Tanaka. When there’s smoke, there’s fire.
I’d like to think that Tanaka viewed the weather here in Los Angeles as more than acceptable compared to other parts of the country in his time here, I’d also like to think that he is more than aware of all the great asian players, specifically all the great Japanese pitchers the Dodgers have had and to an extent developed. I’d also like to think that Tanaka is aware that having 2 gold glove caliber infielders manning the corner positions, plus a catcher who’s pitching staff absolutely adores him plays a part in his decision.
Not to mention the fact that the “favorite” in the Hochi report (the Yankees) has probably the most infield questions of any team in the major leagues. Derek Jeter not playing essentially all of last season (plus, Jeter makes Hanley Ramirez look like Ozzie Smith), Alex Rodriguez just got suspended for the whole year probably forcing Kelly Johnson (!) to be their primary 3b, Mark Texeira just missed all but 15 games of last season with a wrist injury (he isn’t exactly the definition of great defense at 1b either), oh and they’re looking at another 600 AB’s of Eduardo Nunez/Brendan Ryan or career minor leaguer Dean Anna at 2b.
Hey, they could always get defensive stalwart Michael Young to play 3rd for 600 AB’s and have Johnson at 2b.
I’d also like to think that Tanaka has viewed the deficiencies with Asian pitchers in New York in the past, Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa aren’t exactly sterling names to have as your “impact Japanese pitching imports”.
But of course this report likely means nothing because of how erratic the Japanese media has proven to be in these situations, we already knew that the Dodgers, the Angels, the Yankees, and (a team not listed there) the Cubs are going to be his main suitors. The fact the Cubs aren’t listed makes me think the report is somewhat inaccurate, or Tanaka really doesn’t want to go to Chicago. Just under 2 weeks until he makes his decision on his future things should get interesting but right now it’s all speculation, enjoy the ride.