Of course the more advantageous end to the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes would have been him signing with the Astros. That way Tanaka would be taking the mound for the home team instead of the visitors in the first series of 2014. To say Tanaka would have been an upgrade over the current Houston starting rotation is an understatement.
But, I still would tally this as a win for Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow, and company. When I saw the news last night that Crane had confirmed Houston’s interest in Tanaka, I took it with some cynicism. Maybe it was wrong of me, but that is what we have been conditioned to do in these parts over the past few years.
Today though, we learned that Houston’s interest was in fact real and legit. And to say that is a good thing and positive news goes without saying. Crane has been preaching that the money will start flowing, and this is the second time this off-season that the Astros had a big offer out to a free agent.
Yes, there has been a lot of other talented free agents that Houston ignored this winter, but they did not fit with Luhnow’s plan.
From everything that was reported today, the Astros offer to Tanaka was over $100 million. You cannot argue with the legitimacy of that contract, but when the New York Yankees want a player, they will not be overbid. And while I think Tanaka will be a very good starting pitcher, there are still some questions as to how his talents will translate to the major leagues.
“The point of the meeting was to expose (Tanaka) to the Astros and convince him,” Luhnow said. “It was a good learning experience. Hopefully next time we’ll get across the finish line because we want the best players in Houston.”
All indications are that the Astros really brought their A-game to their meeting with Tanaka. This showed that Houston is serious about improving the team and building a winner. We also got a taste of what we can expect from Roger Clemens in his role with the Astros’ front office as he was an intricate part of the meeting.
With the help of a translator who used to work for the Yankees, Luhnow, Crane and Clemens took turns making the case for the Astros and the city of Houston during a meeting that lasted about 90 minutes at the house of Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close.
The other good news about Tanaka now being off the market, is that perhaps some of the other free agent pitchers will now start to sign.