The bidding war for Masahiro Tanaka has begun and no team is more involved than the New York Yankees. Tanaka has until Jan. 24 to make his decision on where to play and he will likely use the majority of that time in order to boost his price. This could benefit the Yankees outlook on their starting rotation.
The Yankees are not a part of any discussions with the remaining big-name free agents, like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez or Matt Garza. Instead, they have publicly opted to consider building from within by looking to Michael Pineda, Vidal Nuno, David Phelps or Adam Warren, while heavily pursuing Tanaka. The Tanaka hiatus will allow the Yankees to further assess their young pitchers who are potential candidates for a starting job.
There is currently a freeze on the pitching market until Tanaka signs, so free agents can base their demands off of what the Japanese hurler receives. This permits the Yankees to evaluate their in-house options with peace-of-mind that the free agents won’t be taken away and the Yankees are left with nothing if they choose to go a different route.
Most notably, the team will be able to gauge the most scrutinized Yankee to never play a game in pinstripes, Pineda.
Pineda will arrive to Yankees spring training the healthiest he has been since being traded to New York following the 2011 season. He finished last season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with a 3.86 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 23.1 innings pitched. The Yankees won’t be looking to run him back to the majors if he isn’t ready, but the halt Tanaka has put on the market will allow the coaching staff to evaluate Pineda’s progression for that much longer.
Even if the Yankees fail to sign Tanaka, they will have gathered more information on their young guns and will be able to make easy runs for guys like Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm to fill out their order. Either way, the Yankees’ rotation will have more clarity going into the month of February than it did the month of January.
Of all MLB teams, I believe the Yankees will benefit the most from the inadvertent hold Tanaka has put on the offseason market.