The most talked about free agent heading into the 2014 fantasy baseball season has been Japanese pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka.
The right-hander posted an immaculate 24-0 record with a 1.27 ERA last season in Japan. He has a fastball that averages around 89-93 MPH and the pitch has a good deal of late action on it. He also throws a devastating split-finger fastball, which is easily his best strikeout pitch. Both pitches come out at the exact same arm angle and it makes it nearly impossible for opposing hitters to track. Needless to say, the International star has fantasy scouts drooling over his potential.
Tanaka, pictured above with Rakuten Golden Eagles owner Yozo Tachibana, has been allowed to be posted to the MLB and he has been the number player on top of every team’s list. Some team is about to offer the 25-year-old a $100 million contract and it is only a matter of time until he signs with someone. The Japanese star must be posted before January 24th, a date that is quickly approaching, so fantasy fans can expect to see him make a decision very soon.
Tanaka’s buyout will only be $20 million, as opposed to the $50 million fee when Texas Rangers SP Yu Darvish posted, so it will allow the chance for more teams to get involved in trying to sign the international free agent. Among the teams drawing the most interest in Tanaka has been the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and even the Boston Red Sox.
Tanaka has the potential to be a strong SP3 this fantasy season. He should be able to rack up over 190 innings in his rookie season while posting an impressive sub 3.80 ERA. Fantasy fans shouldn’t necessarily reach for the relatively unknown pitcher this spring, but they shouldn’t sleep on him either.