The entire offseason has centered around just a few specific ball players in regards to the free agent market, but when it comes to starting pitchers, Masahiro Tanaka has been the most talked about by far. With just two more weeks remaining for a Major League Baseball team to sign him, the starting pitching free agent market can finally come out of its deep freeze.
Tanaka has been the story this offseason (outside of the Robinson Cano signing in Seattle), as it appeared that he may or may not be posted, then the posting system changed, now he has been posted and MLB teams have two more weeks to try and woo him to their respective city. It has been tough to keep track of everything surrounding Tanaka, but one thing that is for certain is that the wait for him to sign has put the higher tier free agent starting pitchers in a "wait and see" mode.
Guys such as Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Bronson Arroyo have yet to sign with a new team for 2014 and that is largely due to the fact that their agents have advised them to wait for Tanaka to sign to both see what the market pays for him, as well as which teams will then be in desperation mode to sign a starting pitcher.
You may not agree with it, but it is a smart business decision and simple economics, when supply is low, the price goes up.
The Baltimore Orioles have not been one of the teams to put Tanaka on their "target list," and appear to be showing absolutely no interest in him due to the large salary and the $20 million posting fee that accompanies him, but they have been linked to a couple of the free agent pitchers waiting for Tanaka to sign.
Baltimore has been linked practically all offseason to Arroyo as he is a veteran pitcher who can give you a ton of quality innings and will not require a contract longer than three years, which is the imaginary "ceiling" for the Orioles when it comes to free agent pitchers. While they have been linked to Arroyo and have been reportedly "in contact" with his agent, nothing has come out of it as of yet, and partially due to Tanaka.
Arroyo may not be in the class of Garza, Jimenez and Santana due to his age, but the he is as much of a quality pitcher as those three. There has not been "word" out of Arroyo's camp that they are waiting for Tanaka to sign, unlike the other three, but the fact that a pitcher of his caliber is still on the market in mid-January would lead you to believe that is exactly what they are doing.
It is no secret that the Orioles desperately need a starting pitcher to add to their rotation and Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette has not shied away from Baltimore's goal of adding another starter to its roster, but if they are legitimately looking to add a veteran, quality arm, then Tanaka may be holding up the process.
Whether or not the Orioles will actually add a starter via free agency or even trade remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, it will almost surely not be until after the Tanaka sweepstakes finally come to a close.
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