The Japanese website Nikkan Sports reports that five teams posted formal offers so far, the actual deadline is January 24th. Those teams are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
The winning deal, according to Nikkan Sports, will be a minimum of six-years and in the $100-120 million range.
For the team that makes the winning bid, they are banking on the young man to be a No. 3 starter right out of the gate. In the case of the Diamondbacks, White Sox and Cubs, they are hoping for a staff ace.
For the Red Sox, the price was not right.
Even with the posting fee limited to $20 million to earn the right to negotiate with the pitcher—remember that Boston spent over $50 million just to win the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka from the Seibu Lions in 2006—the triple-digit price tag attached to Tanaka’s services was simply a non-starter.
Deep in starting pitching at all levels of the organization, General Manager Ben Cherington and the rest of the front office felt they did not need to go in on this year’s biggest lottery ticket.
That is not to say Tanaka is not worth all the money his American club is going to give him, but spending $17-$20 million a year on a player that has never thrown a pitch in a major league game is risky.
Tanaka could be Yu Darvish, or he could be Kei Igawa.
There was a time not so long ago the Red Sox would have written a nearly blank check to score Tanaka. Under old general manager Theo Epstein, now president of the Chicago Cubs, the Sox tried to make at least one front page offseason free agent signing, whether they needed to or not.
A change in philosophies after the disastrous 2012 season, however, changed that. So far, Boston is much more deliberate in spending money on need and cultivating talent in their farm system.
The Red Sox also avoid a potential sticky contract extension with ace Jon Lester. The left-hander will be a free agent next winter if the two sides cannot get an extension done before October. The money the unproven Tanaka will get is going to be in the neighborhood of what the Red Sox will offer Lester. Even with a bad 2012, the Red Sox know what Lester brings to the table as his shutdown performance in the 2013 postseason showed.
None of this is to suggest that Tanaka is going to be anything less than advertised. Instead, it is the confidence of the Red Sox organization from top to bottom that says, “We are fine with what we have.”
Sometimes, stability and confidence can be a very good thing.
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