Masahiro Tanaka apparently wants to play in a big market.
Tanaka’s three preferred destinations at this point are Boston, New York and Los Angeles, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Tanaka is free to sign with any Major League Baseball team, although Shea’s report suggests that the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are the clubs most appealing to the Japanese pitcher. Those five teams seem to have varying degrees of interest, though, so Tanaka might not be able to choose between all five.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Thursday on WEEI’s The Hot Stove Show that he spoke with Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, but the sides had yet to schedule a meeting. The Red Sox already have a surplus of starting pitching, so their interest in Tanaka might be limited by their current depth and the nine-figure contract that the 25-year-old is expected to land.
The Mets also haven’t been heavily linked to Tanaka this offseason, which means the Yankees are a more likely New York landing spot. The Bronx Bombers have been linked to Tanaka for a while, and they could be helped by the money that they’ll save from Alex Rodriguez‘s season-long suspension.
It could take a sizable offer to keep Tanaka out of Los Angeles, though. The Angels reportedly have expressed interest, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported Friday that the Dodgers intend to go “all-out” in their effort to sign Tanaka. According to Nightengale, the Dodgers have made it clear that they won’t be outbid.
Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball in 2013, has until 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 24 to complete a deal with a major-league team. If Shea’s report is accurate, the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and other teams linked to the Japanese ace have some persuading to do before then.
Photo via Wikipedia/Masahiro Tanaka