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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.

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