Ben Cherington: Red Sox Talked With Masahiro Tanaka’s Agent, But Boston Yet to Meet With Japanese Pitcher

Masahiro TanakaMajor League Baseball teams are lining up to chat with Masahiro Tanaka. It’s unclear whether the Red Sox will join the fray.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said on WEEI’s The Hot Stove Show on Thursday that he has been in touch with Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close. Cherington did not reveal whether the Red Sox will schedule a meeting with the Japanese pitcher, who reportedly is meeting with several major league teams in Los Angeles this week.

“The calendar doesn’t allow for him to meet with every team, nor does the calendar allow for every team to meet with him,” Cherington said. “There has to be some sense on both sides that it’s time worth spending. That’s just to be determined. But that’s all I can say at this point, really.

“We really respect him as a pitcher, his talent, he’s very accomplished obviously and he looks like a guy who is going to be a good major league starter right away. When that kind of pitcher/talent is available, it’s our job to do the work we need to do to get to know him and express a level of interest that makes sense for us. We’ve done that. We’ll see how it goes.”

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported earlier Thursday that the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks were among a dozen or so teams expected to meet with Tanaka’s camp this week. It doesn’t appear that the Red Sox, who already have a surplus of starting pitching, have been heavily involved in the Tanaka sweepstakes to this point, although Boston certainly has done its homework.

“Obviously, we’ve done a lot of work on Tanaka — as a lot of teams have — so we’re very comfortable with our evaluation, and we’ve had a conversation dialogue with Casey,” Cherington said. “That’s about all I want to say at this point. I think we respect Tanaka as a pitcher. He’s obviously very accomplished and, not surprisingly, there will be a lot of competition for him. This will be an interesting couple weeks that he has to make a decision.”

Tanaka, who has spent the last seven years playing for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 2013. The 25-year-old right-hander is expected to land a nine-figure contract in addition to the $20 million posting fee that his signing team must pay his former Japanese club.

Jan. 24 is the deadline for Tanaka to complete a deal.

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Photo via Facebook/Masahiro Tanaka

Click here for Cherington’s full WEEI interview >>

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