Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Masahiro Tanaka would look awfully good in a Houston Astros uniform in 2014 and beyond. This cannot be disputed. The fact that the Astros are in need of a dominant top of the rotation starter also makes the case for pursuing Tanaka.
Last season in Japan, the 25-year old was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA, .94 WHIP and 183 strikeouts in 212 innings. For his career, Tanaka has a record of 99-35 in seven seasons while sporting a 2.30 ERA and 1.11 WHIP to go with 1,238 strikeouts in 1,315 innings.
Those are numbers that cannot be argued with. Yes there is some risk involved in acquiring a pitcher from Japan as the level of competition is not as high and there are some concerns about over use. But even still allowing for some regression, Tanaka is clearly a talented pitcher. This is what the Astros need.
Plus, to add Tanaka, Jeff Luhnow will not have to trade any prospects. All Tanaka will cost is money. Money that Jim Crane says is there to improve the Astros.
There is both good and bad news regarding Tanaka. The good news, which I saw first, furthered my motivation for expressing these thoughts. And then reality swoops right in to throw cold water on my dreams of Tanaka, Mark Appel, and Jarred Cosart teaming up in the rotation next season.
In short, if you wish to bid on any free agents coming over from Japan, the maximum bid to negotiate with them would be $20 million. These bids have been getting out of control lately, and do not count against the luxury tax. Rumors were, that bidding for Tanaka very possibly could have reached $100 million.
Under what appears to be the newly agreed upon rules (per Yahoo’s Tim Brown), as long as the team with the worst record (in this case the Astros) bid $20 million (or have the highest bid), they win the negotiating rights.
Seems like a simple decision to me if I am Jim Crane and Jeff Luhnow.
But there is one party here that loses; the Japanese teams that are losing their talent for less than market rates. And that is why there is now word that Tanaka might not be posted.