Rakuten reportedly offer Masahiro Tanaka $8MM, won’t let him go; Michael Young interest


If you were hoping for good news on Masahiro Tanaka for the Dodgers, then today isn’t quite your day.

Last night, it was reported that the Rakuten Golden Eagles were still trying to persuade Tanaka to stay, going as far to offer him an $8 million contract.

So that alone throws into doubt the previous Japanese reports that Rakuten were going to be letting him go. But worse yet, early this morning, the Rakuten President Yozo Tachibana commented that it would be difficult to let Tanaka go under this posting system.

And now Japanese papers are reporting that the meeting with Tanaka and Rakuten on Friday is not to negotiate, but to tell him he won’t be able to head overseas.

But on Thursday morning, several Japanese newspapers reported that the Eagles — who control the rights to Tanaka until the end of 2015 — would not permit major league teams to bid for him.

One newspaper, Sports Hochi, reported that team officials planned to meet with Tanaka on Friday, not to negotiate his contract, but to tell him they would not permit him to depart to play in North America.

That would throw a wrench into the plans of a lot of teams who were hoping for a front-end starter to become available late in the free agency process. As such, it would be a day of celebration for the currently unsigned free agent pitchers.

Knowing about that report now, it’s even worse seeing Buster Olney passing along speculation that Tanaka would prefer a West Coast team, which would probably put the Dodgers in the lead.

If it is accurate that Tanaka prefers to play on the West Coast, then the Dodgers and Mariners might have an advantage beyond their available dollars. Tanaka would be a great fit for the Giants in a lot of ways — they need young starting pitching; he could be marketable for them; they’re one of MLB’s most flush teams; they’d keep him away from the Dodgers, etc. — but it’s unclear whether San Francisco would consider that type of investment.

Just depressing.

I can be irrationally upset at Rakuten, but logically it does make sense for them. Heck, I argued recently about trying to involve the KBO to skirt the rules, and then speculated on whether or not it would even make sense for Rakuten to post Tanaka if they could only get $20 million. After all, he’s a large part of their team and they just won the Japan Series, so selling him isn’t exactly as clearly beneficial as it was with Yu Darvish or others. Heck, one Japanese professor says it’ll be a net loss of about $6 million for Rakuten to let Tanaka go, so why would they do it?

So I understand their position, but as a selfish MLB fan, a fan of seeing the best players compete against one another, and a fan of one of Tanaka’s potential destinations in the MLB, it’s disappointing to read these reports. Tanaka doesn’t really have any leverage to force his team’s hand that I’m aware of, so if they want him to stay he probably will have to, and that’ll be the end of that.

Guess we’ll find out Friday.


Oh, and to add on to that joyous report, the Dodgers still have interest in Michael Young.

You know, I actually grew to like him a bit as a Dodger because he always gave supportive quotes for teammates and seemed like a good guy, so I do understand some of the love he gets from the media. The problem is that he only used to be a pretty good player, but he just can’t play anymore. And a utility role doesn’t fit him well because he can’t play defense effectively.

I just don’t see the sense in using one of the bench spots on him, especially since the staff still thinks of him as a guy who deserves to get a lot of playing time.

About Chad Moriyama