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Boston Red Sox Should not Pursue Masahiro Tanaka

December 26th, 2013 at 11:46 AM
By Ron Juckett

'Eagles - Back' photo (c) 2008, ElCapitanBSC - license:

Masahiro Tanaka will be pitching in a Major League Baseball stadium in 2014, as his parent club Rakuten Golden Eagles have posted him for free agency, but the hot prospect should not call Fenway Park his home.

Tanaka, 25, has owned the Japanese Pacific League since his debut in 2007. In seven seasons, Tanaka won an incredible 99 games and won every single decision he has last year. All 24 of them, with a gaudy 1.27 ERA to boot.

Why in Sam Hill are we suggesting he does not belong with the Boston Red Sox?

Simply, he does not fit.

Yes, slap your forehead, but do you really want to spend $14-$16 million per season on a player sight unseen? If Tanaka as in the Red Sox farm system, we would see him play for the league minimum, then see salary increases based on his performance.

Tanaka may be the second coming of Yu Darvish, or Daisuke Matsuzaka. He could be Hideo Nomo or he could be Hideki Irabu. Whatever he becomes, he will not come cheap. Coming off a World Series win and a couple of big money contracts in the middle of the starting rotation, the Sox are not in the need of a long-term high-price lottery ticket.

The farm system is loaded and, if anything, we may see Boston unload a Ryan Dempster or Jake Peavy to shed payroll before the season starts to ensure that Brandon Workman and Felix Dubront ease their way back into the rotation full time.

Remember, this is still about winning in the future and not gambling with the present.

There are going to be teams waiting at the airport with suitcases full of cash to throw at Tanaka. Any deal for his services is going to be in the range of five-years and $75 million, at worst. Can the Sox afford that? If they want to go over the luxury tax threshold, sure.

The better question is, is that smart money to spend. The answer is a simple no.

With any team willing to pay Tanaka’s $20 million posting fee, the cost for MLB clubs to do business goes down, putting many more teams into play. We know the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners are going to be his biggest suitors. Is it worth it to drive up the price on the Yankees?

The Steinbrenner’s are going to empty the vaults for whatever player they want to. Having Boston make an offer is not going to scare of Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman. The Yankees need starting pitching and do not have anyone waiting in the wings that has the immediate impact Tanaka can deliver.

Frankly, the Red Sox can spend their money better elsewhere.

They need to make decisions on extensions for Jon Lester and David Ortiz, for starters. Ben Cherington also needs to decide whether a short-term deal to keep Stephen Drew is in the cards as well. Lastly, Boston would like to keep some payroll flexibility in case a slugger like Matt Kemp comes available.

There would be quite the buzz around Fenway Park if Tanaka pitched for the Red Sox but looking at how this offseason has played out, a serious move for him would be a major change of team philosophy.

Unless the final deal is closer to the $10 million per season number, Boston should pass.

Tags: Baseball, Ben Cherington, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Brian Cashman, Japanese Pacific League, Masahiro Tanaka, MLB, New York Yankees, Rakuten Golden Eagles

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