There were two really good scouting reports published today, each a practical take on what kind of pitcher Tanaka might be in the United States. Dan Szymborski, writing for ESPN.com, concludes that “the biggest test for Tanaka will be the command on his fastball. … Tanaka doesn’t have (Yu) Darvish’s raw stuff, so he’ll need to go after hitters like Iwakuma has done. This may result in more home runs than he allowed in Japan — just six in 2013 — especially if he’s pitching in Yankee Stadium, but that’s the tradeoff that worked for so well for Iwakuma in 2013.”
That sentence should come with a caveat: Darvish’s raw stuff would probably rank among the top 10 in the world. Maybe top 5. Tanaka’s offspeed pitches are pretty good, too. According to BaseballAmerica.com, his splitter and slider would both fetch at least a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
So what’s all that worth on the open market?
According to Nikkan Sports, at least $100 million over six years, plus a $20 million posting fee to be paid to the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Nikkan also reported that the Dodgers and Yankees have made the largest offer so far. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti made the strongest statement by any interested GM on Friday: “We’ll play it for as long as we can play it until we know that we’re out.”
Remember, Tanaka doesn’t have to choose the team that offers the most money. There are other factors at play.
Some bullet points for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
• Jackie Robinson and King had a healthy mutual respect. It’s easy to forget that baseball’s integration predated most forms of legally induced integration in America. King visited Don Newcombe in Los Angeles 28 days before he was assassinated.
• Maybe MLB can learn something from last night’s NFC championship game.
• Older players might be the new market inefficiency.
• The Dodgers probably can find a better veteran infielder via trade than on the free-agent market.
• Jonathan Wilson’s 2013 release “Fanfare” channels Bob Dylan, Steely Dan and everything sonically/chronologically in bewteen: