The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Yasiel Puig has become the most recent example of a diamond in the rough, overseas acquisition that has single handedly reversed a franchise’s fortune. Following in the footsteps of Ichiro Suzuki and other international players who have emerged from obscurity to dominate the big-league scene, Puig, who defected from Cuba in 2012, will be featured prominently in this year’s playoffs as a crucial component of the Dodgers’ offensive attack.
The Los Angeles Angels would love nothing more than a Puig-esque miracle before opening day next season, though instead of a fleet-footed, dynamic outfielder (they already have one of those, in case, you know, you haven’t heard of Mike Trout), the Halos would welcome a powerful arm to bolster a thin rotation beleaguered by injuries and underachievement.
Fortunately for the Angels, word has gotten out that such a player may very well be available to them, though he hails from Japan, about as far away from Puig’s homeland as possible. According to the Los Angeles Times, Masahiro Tanaka, a star Japanese right-hander, is now firmly in the Angels’ sights as the team seeks to increase the depth of its rotation, the lack of which has plagued the Halos for the entire season. Tanaka is 95-35 with a 2.32 ERA in his Japanese career, numbers that probably wouldn’t follow Tanaka overseas to the MLB, but still nothing to scoff at.
As an overseas hurler, Tanaka could probably be signed at a cheaper price than most of his American counterparts. Moreover, he would spare the Angels the difficulty of parting with a treasured asset such as Howie Kendrick or J.B. Shuck, each of whom represents a likely price Los Angeles would have to pay if they tried to swing a trade for an impact pitcher.
Any way you look at it, the Angels cannot maintain a consistently high level of play if they have to hold their breath every time Jered Weaver or C.J. Wilson isn’t on the mound. If Tanaka can be signed for a reasonable price, the Angels would be fools not to give him a chance.