Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #17 of Japan pitches during the World Baseball Classic. He has been posted to the MLB by his home team, Rakuten.
Masahiro Tanaka, the next hyped Japanese starting pitcher coming stateside, is set to begin his negotiation period in a couple of weeks, and the suspense of the posting period isn't quite as suspenseful as it was when the Texas Rangers outbid everyone else for the exclusive negotiating rights to Yu Darvish.
Under MLB's new posting rules that took effect this winter, the maximum bid is $20 million, and any team that bids that much will have a chance to negotiate with Tanaka, with every team except for the one that signs him getting their money back. So basically, there's no risk at all, and several teams will likely bid the $20 million just to be able to tell their fans they did.
The Rangers will be a little more serious than that and are thought to be one of the teams contending to sign Tanaka, despite Jon Daniels' and Bob Simpson's insistence that Tanaka doesn't make sense for the club's need and payroll.
As several folks have pointed out, the Rangers seemingly have an advantage in that Tanaka and Darvish are workout partners back in Japan and are presumably pretty close friends, and having Darvish as a teammate would help ease Tanaka's transition to the States.
While Tanaka is expected to be good, he's expected to be much more expensive than Darvish was just two years ago, and he's not "Darvish good," according to just about everyone.
ESPN's Dan Szymborski said the following when comparing the two: "What to be careful about with Tanaka is that he's got a good shot to be very good, but Darvish is special. He's not Darvish."
So there you go, folks. If the Rangers don't land Tanaka, at least rest easy knowing you got the real deal in Darvish.