When the MLB offseason hits this time of the year, most teams and players are prepared to go to spring training with what they have on the roster.
And this year is no different—at least for the hitters.
Free-agent pitchers, however, are a different story. Still on the market are guys like Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez.
The reason? None other than soon-to-be Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka is the biggest prize left for teams, and with the posting process still ongoing, teams are willing to wait in hopes they can land the pitcher from Japan.
The posting process is expected to finish on Jan. 24 as teams who bid $20 million will have the right to negotiate with Tanaka and his agent. If he doesn’t agree to a contract, his Japanese team won’t receive a posting fee and Tanaka will return to Japan.
However, many people don’t expect that to happen as his agent will likely wait until the very last-minute to try to ink out as much money as possible.
The teams interested include, the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. Of course there could be other teams in negotiations, but those are the teams that have most shown up in the rumors.
And, until Tanaka agrees with a team, no other free-agent pitcher will be signed. Guys like Santana, Garza and Jimenez will be leftovers for teams who lost out on the Tanaka sweepstakes. But that’s not entirely a bad thing.
Tanaka is commanding at least $17 million per year, according to a tweet by Bob Nightengale of USA Today. That would place Tanaka in the top 20 of highest-paid pitchers in baseball.
For teams that lose out on Tanaka, that could be a good thing as they’ll spend less money on the other three starting pitchers on the market. Not to mention, they won’t have to pay a $20 million posting fee.
For now, everyone must wait until at least Jan. 24 when Tanaka makes his decision.