The changes to the Nippon Professional Baseball posting system are no doubt disadvantageous to the New York Yankees’ pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka. Under the old system, teams would make one-time offers to the Japanese team whose player was being posted, and exclusive negotiation rights went to the highest bidder. Now, any team that posts $20 million may negotiate with the posted player.
For a team to not indicate a willingness to pay a $20 million posting fee on Tanaka is like not running out a grounder; costs nothing to try.
– Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN)
As Olney indicates, the changes were made to make the posting process more egalitarian, to give smaller market teams a chance to acquire star Japanese players. The Yankees can no longer flex their financial muscle and outbid every other team for whatever Japanese player they desire. Rather, the player has to choose to negotiate with them.
Still, the changes aren’t going to make acquiring Tanaka any cheaper, as more participants in the eminent bidding war will drive up the price for the 25-year-old righty. Fox Sports’ Gabe Kapler suspects the coveted righty could ultimately sign seven-year deal worth around $125 million (after the posting fee).
The Yankees seem hell bent on acquiring Tanaka, but there’s still no guarantee they’ll get him. In that case, they should look to free agency to add one more veteran arm to fill out the rotation. As of now, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Matt Garza are all free agents, currently in limbo while the Tanaka saga plays out. Garza is the best option out of these three pitchers.
Garza is the only free agent pitcher who has posted a sub 4.00 ERA for seven straight seasons, and his 93.1 MPH average fastball velocity ranks highest among free agent starters. He had a poor finish to 2013 with the Texas Rangers, but he dominated in the first half of the season with the Chicago Cubs, going 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA.
Most importantly, unlike Jimenez and Santana, signing Garza will not cost the Yankees a draft pick. They’ve already lost three by signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.
If the Yankees fail to acquire Tanaka, Garza could fill in the nNo. 4 spot in the rotation, while an in-house candidate like Michael Pineda, Adam Warren or David Phelps could be the No. 5 starter. It’s not the most ideal starting rotation, but it’s the best the Yankees can do.