Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #17 of Japan pitches during the World Baseball Classic. He has been posted to the MLB by his home team, Rakuten.
Unless Texas Rangers GM/team president Jon Daniels is pulling the ultimate con on everyone involved, it seems the Rangers will not be signing Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka this week — nearly two years to the day after they signed perhaps the greatest Japanese pitching sensation of all time in Yu Darvish.
Tanaka, who is 25, went 24-0 last year with a 1.27 ERA in the Nippon Baseball League, winning his second Sawamura Award (the league's equivalent of the Cy Young) in three years. The first year he won it, he had Darvish as competition.
So yeah, Tanaka is good. But it's been well documented that he's not as good as Darvish by just about anyone asked. The Rangers are in dire need of another starting pitcher, and Tanaka will obviously be good enough to be a huge upgrade on their staff, but it seems Daniels has some doubts.
Otherwise, why would he be airing publicly that the Rangers aren't interested in Tanaka? It could be a shield, but in the past when the Rangers have made big signings it's been completely under the radar, yet Daniels has said Tanaka doesn't fit in with the Rangers' payroll or plans.
According to Nikkan Sports in Japan, five teams have made formal offers to Tanaka, and the Rangers aren't one of them, even though it's presumed they posted for the ability to negotiate. Tanaka must sign with a team by Friday or he'll return to Japan. The winning club must pay his Japanese club the posting fee of $20 million, as mandated by MLB.
The five teams that have offered Tanaka are reportedly the Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees and the surprise team of the bunch, the Diamondbacks. Tanaka has expressed a desire to play on the West Coast to be more accessible to and from Japan via airplane.
So for once, it appears the Rangers are out on a big-named free agent. At least, that's what it appears.