Masahiro Tanaka is arguably the biggest name left in free agency, and the 25 year-old right-hander will have a long list of suitors to wine, dine, wheel and deal with this winter. According to sources, at least nine big league teams are interested in signing Tanaka, including none other than the Kansas City Royals.
No matter where Tanaka goes, it’s going to be big news and it’s going to make a big difference for that team’s rotation. If KC were the ones to jump above the offers of all the rest and land him they’d send waves through the league and grab national headlines. Although it’s undoubtedly unrealistic, considering the possibilities is a blast. If KC is able to win the Masahiro sweepstakes it would invoke a double take from every other legit team in the entire league. Maybe then ESPN would acknowledge Kansas City’s existence.
However, there’s almost zero reason to believe that KC would fight for a deal with Tanaka. The uncertainty about this NPL star is slowing things down for other, more viable teams, so it’s a near-certainty that the Royals won’t be willing to risk huge money on such a move. The reasons not to sign Tanaka are just too numerous.
Now that MLB and NPL have agreed on a $20 million “release fee” paid by the MLB team to the Japanese team from which they sign their new player, the Royals are even more clearly out of the race. According to both Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports and Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, his workload in MLB could be a serious concern as well. Yozo Tachibana (pictured above), the president of Tanaka’s team in Japan, has yet to decide on whether or not to allow his ace pitcher to sign elsewhere this year. Spending the dough on Tanaka now would also severely limit the Royals’ chances to re-sign James Shields after the 2014 season.
From Kansas City’s standpoint, there’s just not enough reason to go for broke on this admittedly exciting talent. But hey, maybe steering clear of this sweepstakes gives the Royals a jump-start on landing Kenta Maeda in the near future.