The New York Yankees are reportedly already scouting out some pitchers for next season with the Yankees sending scouts to watch Masahiro Tanaka’s latest start for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka, 24, figures to be posted by the Golden Eagles this winter and the Yankees figure to have a lot of holes in their pitching staff with Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte facing free agency and possibly retirement and Phil Hughes facing free agency.
Tanaka is not a Yu Darvish redux but several teams have been checking out his starts this year with the idea of possibly posting a bid on the pitcher. He typically sits between 92-95 with his fastball but lacks ideal movement on the pitch. He also features a split-fingered fastball and slider but his slider is still a work in progress.
The Yankees haven’t been very aggressive in the international market lately, at least with veteran-type players like Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish. Of course, the last time they went after a bigger name international pitcher the Yankees were burned by Kei Igawa who might be the worst signing in Brian Cashman’s career, a career that also features Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright among others.
Tanaka might not be Darvish but he doesn’t have to be. He won’t command a posting fee like Daisuke Matsuzaka did a few years ago unless some team goes crazy. The Yankees need to bolster their rotation for next season and Tanaka would be a very nice addition to the backend. With C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova the only holdovers from this year’s rotation guaranteed to be back and Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren the possible other candidates, it couldn’t hurt to add a player like Tanaka.
Tanaka has pitched to a 1.24 ERA this season and rarely walks anyone with 1.3 BB/9 ratio. However, his strikeout rate is a moderate 7.7 k/9 rate.
As far as Tanaka projecting he could be a poor man’s Hiroki Kuroda but don’t expect him to develop into an ace even if he is the best pitcher in Japan at this point. Still, the Yankees need to get involved and pursue Tanaka this winter.