Reports out of Japan on Thursday say that the highly anticipated entry into Major League Baseball for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is going to have to wait. It appears as if the Rakuten Golden Eagles will not post their star pitcher and allow him to leave to pitch in the United States. This is disappointing news for everyone involved as many teams saw Tanaka as a prime target this offseason.
Up until last week, MLB teams could bid on the service of a player coming out of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) out of Japan with no limits. They could come up with a dollar amount to send to the team the player was from which would then give them exclusive negotiating rights with that player. Then that team would still have to sign the player to a contract. We saw it with players like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish in recent history. The posting fee could get out of hand and price out smaller market teams. With the new agreement, the posting fee could not go any higher than $20 million which would allow any team to get in on the bidding if they choose. It was said that if this agreement wasn’t reached the posting fee for Tanaka could have gotten into the $100 million range which would have limited the number of suitors.
I guess none of that really matters anymore since he isn’t going to be posted. So how does this affect the Texas Rangers in 2014?
The Rangers were named as one of the top three teams possibly bidding on Tanaka’s services. Now that it isn’t likely, the Rangers will have to go to Plan B — if there was a plan B. The pitchers on the open market don’t compare to the skill set the Tanaka was rumored to have so what are they to do? Do they try and make a trade? Do they need to make a trade? As of right now the starting rotation consists of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando, and Matt Harrison. That’s a pretty solid five, but will it be enough?
Neftali Feliz could potentially get moved into the rotation again, but I would hope that it doesn’t happen. He has closer stuff and needs to stay in that role. I have felt that when teams keep flip-flopping from reliever to starter and starter to reliever it does no good for the pitcher. The mindset from a relief pitcher to a starter is so different and vice versa. The Rangers are in a situation where they have to make a move, but the front office will feel like they have to “keep up with the Joneses” and continue to upgrade.
The offseason is far from over, and many intriguing moves will still be made from now until Spring Training.