2014 MLB Free Agency: 5 Potential Landing Spots for Masahiro Tanaka

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Masahiro Tanaka: 5 Potential Landing Spots for MLB's Hottest Free Agent Pitcher

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Via Wikimedia Commons

As we are in the early days of MLB free agency, it is clearly time to start discussing the potential landing spot for one of the highest prizes in baseball right now, Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

If you are unaware of the prowess associated with Tanaka, let me catch you up. Tanaka is a 25-year-old starting pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan’s most prestigious professional league. Having pitched the last seven seasons with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the young hurler boasts 99 wins and a career ERA of just 2.30. In his last three seasons, Tanaka has posted a 1.44 ERA and has thrown 30 complete games in dominating fashion.

As such, Tanaka is arguably the most highly sought after pitcher on the market this winter. Every team in the majors would love to get their hands on the 6-2 righty, but only a handful of teams have a legitimate shot at bringing home the prize this offseason.

The complexity of the posting system for Japanese players is only rivaled by the exorbitant costs to bring one of these players to MLB. With this in mind, some of the smaller market teams will certainly be unable to compete for Tanaka’s arm, but that does not guarantee an automatic shipment to New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. The teams who do have a little bit of money may be able to entice Tanaka to join them and help them become serious contenders for the 2014 World Series.

Without further ado, it is time to get to the slideshow. Click the “Next” button above and check out the five teams I have listed as potential landing spots for Masahiro Tanaka.

Isaac Comelli is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @IsaacComelli, “Like” him on Facebook or follow him on Google.

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Los Angeles Dodgers

LAD
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Alright. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been clear contenders for landing Tanaka since the beginning. With one of the largest wallets in all of baseball and a clear need for starting pitching, the Dodgers have a legitimate shot at landing Tanaka. The one thing that may work against them is whether or not Tanaka wants to play for a team where he might be overshadowed by the talented pitchers around him in Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. In that rotation, Tanaka really would not stand out that much.

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New York Yankees

NYY
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Another of the more obvious answers has to be the New York Yankees. Although the Yanks don’t have as much money to throw around as they are accustomed to, you can rest assured the organization will still be reaching deep into their pockets this offseason. The Yankees had nine different starting pitchers this season and Phil Hughes was a strong disappointment with a 4-14 season and a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts. Expect the Yankees to be strong contenders in the Tanaka bidding war.

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Chicago Cubs

CHC
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs have a decent starting rotation, but they really don’t have that one go-to pitcher that Tanaka is said to be. With Matt Garza leaving the team partway through the 2013 season, the Cubs really need to go after Tanaka.

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Toronto Blue Jays

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays will have to woo Tanaka in a different way as they cannot drop the huge payload on the table in front of him. Nevertheless, they will be contenders as their starting pitching needs are tremendous. The Blue Jays used 12 different starters in 2013 and not a single one that had at least four games started had an ERA under 4.00. Toronto’s pitchers certainly under-performed, but even if they pick it up next year, they need Tanaka’s help.

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Los Angeles Angels

LAA
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season was an absolute letdown for the Los Angeles Angels. After the club brought in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, they seemed nearly unstoppable, especially with veteran ace Jered Weaver leading the starting rotation. Alas, it was not meant to be as the Angels finished the season six games below .500 and watching the playoffs from home. Although Tanaka cannot help their offensive efforts, he can certainly give the Anaheim home crowd something to cheer about. C.J. Wilson performed excellently in 2013 and if he, Weaver and Tanaka can all go after it in 2014, the Angels could be serious contenders.

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