It’s no surprise that the Toronto Blue Jays have already sent assistant GM Andrew Tinnish and scout Danny Evans overseas to take a look at the latest and greatest pitching talent coming out of Japan. According to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, crafty righty Masahiro Tanaka was being drooled over by the Blue Jays front office last month in preparation for what looks to be a very unpredictable offseason for the AL East basement dwellers.
Up until recently, the Blue Jays’ pitching overall has suffered greatly with the likes of Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey underachieving and failing to provide stability throughout what was supposed to be a stellar rotation. This critical part of the lineup is something that GM Alex Anthopoulos must address in order for his team to finally be competitive in what seems to be an impossible AL East. So, should Toronto fans be excited for the possibility of a big name from Japan making his way to the Big Smoke? No. Absolutely not! Does the name Yu Darvish ring a bell, anyone?
Remember back in January of 2012 when Blue Jays fans’ hearts were broken after news broke that the Texas Rangers had actually won the bid for Darvish and not the Blue Jays? Well, this situation with Tanaka seems eerily similar. Everyone and their dog wants a piece of him, including the big boys. Teams like the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and most recently the New York Yankees have all been keeping tabs on the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Japanese hurler over the past little while, and there is no reason why the rest of the MLB teams shouldn’t jump on the Tanaka train in the very near future.
Tanaka’s current club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, are expected to post him for MLB clubs to bid on him, but they shouldn’t expect to generate an interest that is close to the $51.7 million that was handed over by the Rangers just to talk to Darvish. A cool $30-$35 million is expected to be graciously given up to earn the right to negotiate with Tanaka. This is essentially why every team, except for maybe the Houston Astros, has a shot at landing Tanaka for the 2014 season and essentially why fans of the Blue Jays should try to keep a level head and not get all fired up about inquiring for the Japanese prized possession.
Instead, fans of the fragile team north of the border should focus on how their team plans on getting their current pitching rotation back on track, because on paper they still exude a lot of talent. And rather than breaking the bank on another pitcher, why not try to upgrade at second base or behind the plate? Yes, J.P. Arencibia has the type of pop that allows him to belt 20-25 home runs per season, but a lackluster .205 batting average isn’t going to set up anyone at the top of the order for success in the RBI department.
Sure, Tanaka would be a nice addition to the Blue Jays rotation, especially when everyone wants to look past Ricky Romero when you see him walking down the streets of Toronto, or Buffalo for that matter. But as a Blue Jays fan, don’t get your hopes up. Tanaka is going to come at a price that a lot more teams in MLB are going to be willing to fork over, and Blue Jays fans may just find themselves listening to an Anthopoulos press conference that sounds all too familiar.