Masahiro Tanaka Posted, but can the Angels Sign Him?
By Michael Hllywa
The holiday was nice, wasn’t it? Sitting around with the family, conversations galore, that one uncle that always ends up drinking way too much eggnog. Just a fun family gathering. With the occasional glance at Twitter. Then the occasional glance at Twitter became a I-need-to-check-this-every-five-minutes glance. Then it became a “excuse me, I need to go to the restroom. I’ll be right back” glance. Of course the Rakuten Golden Eagles would choose Christmas Eve to decide whether or not to post Masahiro Tanaka. Of course they would.
The back-and-forth dance that has been going on for the past few weeks came to a head on Tuesday. First the report was that Rakuten would post Tanaka. Then they weren’t. Then they were. Then I threw up in a paper bag from worrying. It was a stressful day. And now the stress can be extended until January 24th since that is how long teams have to decide whether or not they want to post a bid for Masahiro Tanaka’s services. Yes, that’s right. Teams get 30 days to decide if they are going to post the $20M bid that they will need to post in order to talk to Tanaka. Then, Masahiro can start contract negotiations with teams. In late January. A few weeks before Spring Training. This system is wonky.
But that’s well into the future. For now, the prognostication conversation is about with whom Masahiro Tanaka will sign. The biased me says that he will sign with the Angels. Great weather, great ballpark, good team (on paper), good reasons to want to play in Anaheim. But, money talks. And by most accounts, the Angels have roughly $15M to spend before they hit they luxury tax threshold. A threshold that Arte Moreno has said numerous times that he does not want to breach. A tax that he does not want to play. A decision that could ultimately keep Masahiro Tanaka out of Anaheim.
This isn’t the Yu Darvish posting where the Texas Rangers had no bidder to compete with. Any team can post the maximum bid and earn the right to negotiate with Tanaka. The Yankees are expected to be all in for Tanaka’s services. And we all know ho much they care about the luxury tax threshold. The Cubs, apparently, will not be outbid. If Arte is dead set on not going over the $189M tax threshold, then the only thing the Angels can throw at Tanaka, is years on his contract. But even if they were to offer a six-year contract to Tanaka, they would only be offering $90M. An amount that could be well over what should be expected for Tanaka, but I have seen crazier things happen.
So what happens next?
Fellow writer and bourbon connoisseur, MJ Lloyd, thinks the Angels will come up short on Tanaka, panic and ultimately sign Matt Garza. And, as much as I would hate that, there’s too much logic there to ignore.
So, the ball is in your court, Arte. What are you going to do? Do you say “to hell with the luxury tax,” and go after a mid-20’s pitcher with numbers comparable to Darvish? Do you hold off, spend that money on Garza and then hope you can entice Mike Trout to sign an extension? We’re waiting, Arte. Pitching is the Angels number one need right now, it has been their number one need for some time now. And they have a chance to go all in on a young and talented pitcher.
But, it is up to Arte Moreno to give Jerry Dipoto the go ahead to offer the kind of contract that could keep Tanaka out of New York or Chicago, and draw him to Southern California.