Mandatory Credit: USA Today
As the GM meetings are now here, the hot free agents are looking for new work. Sure, you can say that Robinson Cano or Jacoby Ellsbury are the top of some team’s wish lists, but what about the Nationals? Washington is looking for some starting pitching depth. Matt Garza’s name has been floating around in rumors but is he the best starting pitching candidate out there? Nope. That title belongs to Japanese right hander Masahiro Tanaka. And the Nationals are scouting him.
Tanaka has been sought after by teams over this past year and there are only a handful of teams that can and are willing to give him the money that will outbid the others. I would imagine with the fee to talk to him plus the contract (I can see five or six years as he’s only 24), the total will grow to around $100 million. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.24 ERA in 2013 while pitching for the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League. A number of teams are set to be involved including the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, and Rangers among others. Now the way the system works is that the team with the highest bid will get a 30 day window to negotiate with Tankaka.
The Nationals are in the boat where they have scouted Tanaka, along with these other teams. But would this be the right deal in the long run? The perception is that a ton of teams can scout a guy and be nowhere in the running for him. I think it would be an outside chance that the Nationals are willing to throw all that money Tanaka’s way, rather sign another guy who will be cheaper and fits the team better. With Strasburg, Gonzalez, and Zimmermann, the Nationals have a potent top of the rotation and may be just willing to sign a guy who will be a 4 or a 5 in their rotation. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Nationals signing Tanaka, but the rotation will do just fine without him.