Masahiro Tanaka tells team he wants to play in MLB next year
Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka has told his club he wants to play in Major League Baseball next year. Now it's up to them to decide whether or not to let him.
With Monday's official announcement that Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have agreed to a new posting system, the focus now shifts completely to whether or not phenom Masahiro Tanaka will be posted.
We know his team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, want to keep him, though they have also said that if he strongly felt he wanted to leave for America, they wouldn't stand in his way.
Tuesday in a press conference in Japan, Tanaka made his feelings known publicly.
"I informed my team that I would like them to allow me to test my abilities in Major League Baseball next season," Tanaka said (translated to English) after a meeting with Eagles president Yozo Tachibana (via Associated Press).
So that should do it, though it hasn't been officially decided and the Eagles seem to be continuing to plead with Tanaka to stay.
"We told him he is very important to us and we'd like him to stay," Tachibana said (AP).
The "important" part is a bit of an understatement, actually. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 183 strikeouts in 212 innings. He also won five playoff starts and appeared in relief to close out the game that won the championship for Rakuten.
If Tanaka is posted, a litany of teams will surely bid the maximum $20 million release fee for the rights to negotiate with Tanaka -- considering they only have to pay it if they are able to sign him.
A bit indirectly, Tanaka's status being up in the air has stifled the starting pitching market. Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez remain unsigned -- not to mention Jeff Samardzija and David Price haven't been traded. Once Tanaka's situation is resolved, we'll start to see more movement on the top available starting pitchers.