The negotiation period for teams to offer a contract with free agent Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka ends on Friday at 5p.m. with teams trying to lure the 25-year-old with a hefty contract and hopes of pitching for a championship.
The New York Yankees have been all-in on Tanaka from day one and have an offer out on Tanaka that is believed to be for six years and more than $100 million. Four other teams have also made bids on Tanaka as well and according to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, the Yankees are one of five finalists for his services.
"According to a report in NikkanSports.com, five major league teams have put in bids for the services of Masahiro Tanaka, and yes, the Yankees are one of them. The website reports the Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox, Diamondbacks, along with the Yankees, are in the running for Tanaka; the window for negotiations with the Japanese righthander slams shut at 5 p.m. on Friday. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has refused to comment on the negotiations, and as per his usual practice, Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, has maintained radio silence throughout. But at least we know that the Yankees, who have expressed a strong desire to sign Tanaka, are in the game. Five days from now, we will know if they won it."
As Matthews reported, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and potentially the odds-on favorite in the bidding chase, the Chicago Cubs, are also in the final five for Tanaka and all have offered him a contract more than $100 million; the Diamondbacks have reportedly offered Tanaka $120 million and the Cubs may have offered $140 million.
The 25-year-old Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.73 ERA and pitched the Rakuten Golden Eagles to a championship this past season, thus why he is considered to be the prize of the free agent market of the starting pitching market.
One report has said that Tanaka could make a decision on his next team as early as Wednesday, especially since Tanaka's deal has to be in before the 5p.m. deadline on Friday, otherwise Tanaka would have to return to Japan for the 2014 season.
The Yankees need for Tanaka is a great one especially since there is great uncertainty in the rotation with CC Sabathia coming off a rough season and the other two spots occupied are by Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova; Andy Pettitte announced his retirement following the 2013 season and Phil Hughes signed with the Minnesota Twins, so adding Tanaka became a priority the day the 2013 season concluded.
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