Tanaka Would Have Looked Nice in Phillies Pinstripes – Phillies Nation

Tanaka Would Have Looked Nice in Phillies Pinstripes

Forget about it now, there’s no point. There’s really no reason for the Phillies to even waste their time pursuing Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka.

The 25-year-old star, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, was posted by his team earlier this week. Any team is free to speak with him under the new posting rules, but the team who signs him will be forced to pay an additional $20 million to Rakuten. Pundits say he’s more Yu Darvish than Daisuke Matsuzaka, and I’ve been hoping the Phillies would get involved in acquiring him.

Take his opinion with a grain of salt, but Bobby Valentine, who has seen Tanaka up close while managing in Japan, says he has the best split-fingered fastball in the world. He raved about Tanaka to the NY Post, saying he pitches like Jose Fernandez of the Marlins.

Tanaka was part of my offseason plan put together in mid-November. Here’s what I wrote:

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 12.58.09 PMThat was before the posting system changed, although the overall money spent would be roughly the same. Reports indicate it’s possible he gets over $100 million in a six year deal.

Nearly two months ago, I assumed this would be a wise move for the Phillies to make. Put in place a potential star as the third arm in the rotation and when Cliff Lee inevitably leaves via trade or as a free agent when his contract is complete, you’d have a nice fallback plan for the future. However, with the moves made by Ruben Amaro Jr., there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in going in the direction of Tanaka.

Amaro seems dead set on running a overpriced, aging roster out to the field next season, hoping he can strike gold. If he was not serious about spending money on an outfielder or to help the bullpen, then why would he splurge for Tanaka, which would cost well over $100 million in a contract and posting fee? He wouldn’t.

Had Amaro gone in a different direction early in free agency, my outlook on the roster would be completely different as we head into the new year. But why waste the money on Tanaka now if there seems to be no real plan? Tanaka could be the first step in a rebuilding effort that could push a youthful movement forward while attempting to win with what’s currently in place. Sadly, that won’t be the case.



  1. Keith

    December 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    And stuff like this is exactly why RAJ needs to go.

  2. schmenkman

    December 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    For all the talk about Amaro (understandably — he is the face of the front office), it seems clear that he was given a payroll limit of roughly the same as it was in 2013. Admittedly, the off-season isn’t over and it’s possible that could change by opening day.

    But assuming that really was his limit this off-season, what do people think he should have done differently?

    He apparently is looking to move Papelbon, and there was even a crazy rumor of a Howard/David Price deal.

    Is the failure this off-season in not making deals like this lucrative enough to make them attractive to another team?

  3. DadsInKeyLargo

    December 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    At Lees age, there is a very good chance no matter what he does, he gets moved by July non waiver trading deadline.
    Pat’s right. trying to get Tanaka makes sense on many levels. Foremost to get a replacement for Lee that will be around for more than a few years.
    As the Phils get rid of some contracts as this and next year come and go, they will be in a much better position to compete. Remember that new TV deal. It isn’t like they don’t have the money.

  4. George

    December 28, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Isn’t it possible that Amaro’s decision to go cheap on the outfield and bullpen was made so that he does have some money left to bid on a difference maker such as Tanaka? You can’t get an Ellsbury or a Choo and have much left in the tank to gain a player you can actually build around. (You don’t build around either of those two, because at age 30+ the’re both beginning their decline years–they’re both potential albatrosses.)

    • hk

      December 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      I actually do think that there’s finally a plan in place and I also think that Tanaka is the perfect addition to the moves made so far if ownership will allow RAJ to spend more on payroll. I think that the plan was and is to try to supplement the current core with players who did not require a commitment beyond 2016 and see if the aging core can make another run in the next three years before (hopefully) an influx of young talent replaces the current veterans for 2017 and beyond. This plan can be helped by Tanaka, who won’t even be 30 in 2017, in the near-term while not undercutting the longer-term whereas most of the free agents like Ellsbury, Cano, Garza and the other big money free agents who are currently 30+ would most likely mean

      • hk

        December 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm

        My comment above was not meant to be a reply to George. It also was submitted before I finished. The finish is below:

        …whereas most of the free agents like Ellsbury, Cano, Garza and the other big money free agents who are currently 30+ will most likely be overpaid and in decline by 2017 or 2018. Opportunities to get a 25 year old potential #2 starter don’t come along very often any longer and I think that the Phillies should make a serious effort at landing Tanaka.

  5. bacardipr

    December 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I think the payroll is capped out by a self imposed limit as eluded by Schmek. Is it possible and do they have the financial resources i think so.

  6. Justin McElroy

    December 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    You can’t correct the bad personnel and financial decisions over the past few years by throwing even more money at the problem. I rarely agree with Amaro, but the one thing I do concur with him with is that if you can’t win with a $165 million payroll than you’re doing something wrong. Can you imagine what kind of team Billy Beane or Andrew Friedman could build with that kind of money at their disposal? There’s no hope for this organization until Amaro is fired – which should be sometime within the next two seasons.

  7. SpankHammer

    December 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Wait, there’s a plan??

  8. Lucas

    December 28, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    I was expecting to see a Photoshoped picture of Tanaka in red pinstripes.

  9. poman

    December 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Ruben is showing a low baseball IQ…this aging team has no shot without 2 huge upgrades…a power hitting OF that would be Right handed and a pitcher like this…the window is almost closed and Rubes got his head up his ass instead of in the free agent market…FIRE THIS CLOWN NOW and give the team some direction!

  10. Lefty

    December 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I rarely disagree with you Pat, but I think you’ve closed the book prematurely on this subject. If the Twins and Astros are reported to have interest, so can the Phils. I don’t believe we can assume that Tanaka is no longer a possibility for our favorite ball club. I think he’s a great get for any team, whether they are an immediate contender or not. And the Phillies organization CAN afford him, no matter what they would have you believe.

    I can’t quote a reliable source, but I’m hearing that there is a reasonable chance the TV deal will be extended well prior to it’s end in 2015, as Comcast desperately wants to keep their hometown team. There could be more available dollars coming to a ball park near you, and it could be soon.

  11. Miker

    December 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Maybe its just me, but the signings of Byrd, Lincoln, Ruiz, Hernandez, and Gonzalez do not equal the pay of Roy Halladay.. If its going to take 100m over 6 years, why wouldn’t we be in the running?

  12. john

    December 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    I would love to see the phillies pick him up. Rubin always makes a big splash but hasn’t yet I think this will be the big splash for this offseason. I just hope it happens soonn

  13. Davep

    December 28, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    There’s no reason that the phillies shouldn’t at least put in the $20 million offer in the posting system – it will give them to opportunity to at least negotiate with tanaka, and remember that only the team that signs tanaka has to pay the $20 million.

    Honestly if you want to have a team that’s competitive at all, and the offense looks like it’ll be mediocre at best, you need pitching. I wish the phils would make a move like this. 🙁

  14. Gillz

    December 29, 2013 at 1:58 am

    RAJ pleeeeeaase make this happen! I’m a phillies phan through it all and last season was tough to watch! Please give us some hope and excitement for this season! Cause right now I’m not seeing much. Well besides the fact the phillies will be back on but c’mon we can’t keep this up. THIS IS PHILADELPHIA REUBEN!

  15. wbramh

    December 29, 2013 at 5:04 am

    As I mentioned in a previous post, the Yankees have to pay a 40% tax since they are a chronic repeat offender.

    22.5% – 1 time offender
    30% – 2 times
    40% 3 or more times

    If Tanaka earns $30 mil a year it would cost the Yankees at least an additional $12 mil a year in luxury tax.(40% of $30 mil) That’s above the tens of millions in LT they already have to pay on contracts that will be in effect long after Howard, Papelbon, Lee, Rollins and Utley are off the Phillies dole.

    In contrast, if the Phillies signed Tanaka for $30 mil per year it would probably cost the team less than 3.5 mil in annual LT. That’s assuming the pre-Tanaka team payroll is in the neighborhood of $163 mil as some project which would mean a 22.5% tax on the $15 mil overage or just under 3,38 mil in LT.

    In other words, the Phillies are arguably in better financial shape to go after Tanaka than are the Yankees, especially since they are among the elite earners in MLB and about to sign a major broadcast contract.

    Both the Yankees and Phillies need pitching. The Yankees probably more so but they have a stronger offense to help carry them. The Phillies are down to two aces and as Pat and others have intimated, they will be down to one ace soon enough. The time to rebuild is now and to land a 25-year-old superstar without giving up equal talent is almost unheard of these days. No other move would give them more momentum in the right direction.
    The team is facing a second major drop in attendance, less interest from future free agents in coming to Philadelphia and a potential decade or more of frustration.

    The fact is, they have to sign Tanaka and only a damn fool would pass without a fight.

  16. Betasigmadeltashag

    December 29, 2013 at 5:20 am

    I would think if history tells us anything RAJ likes pitching over hitting so if he were to make a splash it may be a signing like this

    • schmenkman

      December 29, 2013 at 11:19 am

      “I would think if history tells us anything RAJ likes pitching over hitting”

      This seems to be the common wisdom, but I think a couple of factors led him to trade for Oswalt, Lee and Halladay (and then sign Lee): 1) they had the hitting at the time, and what they lacked was the strong starting pitching; if the opposite was true, I think his “big splashes” would have been hitters, and 2) when the objective is to advance deep into the playoffs, strong starting pitching is a logical area to focus on.

      In any case, I hope they do make a strong bid for Tanaka. His signing could put them in contention, or at least close enough that with a little luck they could be in the mix.

  17. Ryne Duren

    December 29, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I’m assuming that if the Phillies post the 20 mil and don’t sign him, they would get the money back? If so then they would be fools not to post. If they post and sign him I’d be floored.
    Let’s face it, the offense has so many questions and guesses, But a rotation of Hamels, Lee, Tanaka, coupled with a possible 4th pretty good starter in Gonzales with a real decent #5 . My opinion would be the Phils are in the running for being a contender in the division. What do you guys think?

    • hk

      December 29, 2013 at 11:51 am


      Yes, they get the money back if the post the $20M and he signs elsewhere. I don’t know believe Tanaka makes them a legit contender for the division, but I do think he puts them on the verge of being a Wild Card contender. He also puts them in a position where, if they get off to a good start and people start returning to the ballpark, ownership may open the pocketbooks further and let RAJ try to acquire a difference maker during the season. However, even if he doesn’t make the 2014 Phillies into contenders, the benefit of signing Tanaka as compared to any other free agent starter is that he could still be improving and he may peak in a few years when maybe the Phils are stronger whereas all of the others project to be on the downside of their careers in +/- 2017 when the Phils may start getting a significant influx of good players from the system.

      • Ryne Duren

        December 30, 2013 at 11:10 am

        HK thanks for clearing that issue up for me on the 20mil signing. I was leaning towards that but I wasn’t sure. And yes more of a wild card. I should have been clearer on that. I think you’re right also on having a pitcher like that for when they do get an influx of younger talent.
        I haven’t been on the site for a couple of days I hope you and your family, along with all the PN posters had a Merry Christmas and have a safe and prosperous new year also.

      • hk

        December 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm


        Thanks. The same to you and yours as well as all of the bloggers and readers.

  18. Justin McElroy

    December 29, 2013 at 11:22 am

    “…what would Tanaka even want in Philadelphia? He’s interested in relocating to a different country to play ball; if he maintains any of his elite hurling in the transition, he’s not going to want to waste away in a rebuilding project that doesn’t know it’s a rebuilding project for a bunch of years, seeing his name in trade rumors.

    Assuming Tanaka and his agent do their research, Philadelphia, a franchise quickly falling and questionably led, wouldn’t qualify as a top choice. In the end, if Amaro really wanted Tanaka; really, really wanted him, he would most likely only succeed by offering an absurd amount of money. Which, as we know, he is want to do if he sees it as necessary. But the conservative hand he’s played all winter has not indicated he’s got much up his sleeve.”

  19. Scotty Ingerton

    December 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    The national media is trying to figure out Amaro’s plan as well:

    27. Philadelphia Phillies — The Phillies have been trying to unload their albatross contracts — Jonathan Papelbon and Ryan Howard — but have only been the subject of derision. They also added Marlon Byrd on a questionable two-year deal and re-signed Carlos Ruiz to a questionable three-year deal. They are not expected to compete for much in 2014, so it doesn’t make any sense for them to sign free agents closer to 40 years old than 30 years old to multi-year deals.


    • schmenkman

      December 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      I don’t know if you’re aware, but the “national media” in this case is the lead author of the local Crashburn Alley blog.

      • Scotty Ingerton

        December 30, 2013 at 12:33 am

        He knows his stuff then! It is a national website though Schmenk. It’s not to hard to find many others with the exact same sentiment – Amaro’s a hack GM.

  20. The Original Chuck P

    January 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm


    Count another two teams “in” on the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes as the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox have both apparently entered the competition for the free agent pitcher.

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