Masahiro Tanaka is back in Japan, according to reports by the Japanese media, but what he accomplished in the United States is far from clear.
He supposedly met with up to 12 teams, but the White Sox are the only club that confirmed a meeting with the market's prize pitcher and his representation, which they did via a nondescript statement. That's a little odd.
If the chatter is to be believed, that might be the last time the Sox make an exclusive appearance in the rumor mill.
*A report from Sports Hochi in Japan has the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels as Tanaka's three preferred destinations. Or, to quote Google Translate:
Competition is likely to go to a three-axis baseball team is ahead.
◆ retired the Yankees Pettitte, starter lack of a serious situation Sabathia, starting pitcher standing of the calculation is only Kuroda. Strengthening the batting only successful in the acquisition of successive slugger McCann, Eruzubari, and Bertrand, this off only Tanaka acquired the remaining mission to recapture hegemony.
◆ The Car Show Dodgers last season, the Cy Young Award, it's also strong at present Gurinki, YanagiKenfu, and Haren, but the starting pitching of the major top-class completion Tanaka if Kuwaware. Plenty of funds. It is easy to live but to Japanese in a warm climate, Nomo, Kuroda chose in the first year the U.S. baseball challenge boost.
◆ The Yosuru Angels Weaver, a C · J · Wilson also frame the lack of starting pitching can not be denied. Pujols is '12, and Hamilton acquisition, batters in destructive power, reliable pitcher for the '13. Throw each other is also increased in the area and Darvish.
*The San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea heard that Boston was also on his list.
*The Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott came away with a more general template for a landing spot:
"He really wants to join a team with a possibility of winning a World Series," said our expert from the Far East. "His mindset is win-for-the-team, the championship. He sets personal goals behind. What motivates him is win-for-the-team. He is humble." [...]
"Tanaka wants to go to a World Series, wants a city where his family will feel at home since they don’t speak English. He has a desire to be on a team with potential to win and loves the pressure."
*CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney says the Cubs plan to make a nine-figure bid, but they'll have company:
The Cubs are prepared to make a nine-figure investment in Tanaka, according to a source familiar with the team’s thinking. A 25-year-old Japanese ace would fit into the long-range business/baseball plans at a renovated Wrigley Field and a future TV network. But multiple officials have predicted the money is going to get "silly" and another desperate, free-spending team will blow them away with more years and dollars.
*The Dodgers have been the subject of wildly varying reports, even from the same reporter. USA Today's Bob Nightengale said the Dodgers saying they "certainly won't be out-bid," only to later say they "won't spend wildly." Buster Olney says their interest depends on the amount of progress made with Clayton Kershaw's upcoming contract.
*The Yankees benefited from a favorable ruling by the arbitrator in the Alex Rodriguez saga, which frees up $25 million and $27.5 million in luxury-tax cap money.
And none of these updates include other interested teams with potentially big spending capabilities, like the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.
On an individual basis, these rumors can be discarded as one guy's opinion. Cumulatively, they paint a reality that financial, circumstantial and geographical forces are all conspiring against the White Sox, and nobody should get their hopes up.
Regardless of the (predetermined?) outcome, I'm eager to see how the Sox frame this pursuit. It's unlike them to be open about their targets, so why is this case different? Especially if they end up being noncompetitive in these advanced discussions? Perhaps they're happy to emphasize their aim to win sooner rather than later, and it's worth any embarrassment of known rejection. Or maybe they just want to give us something to talk about in mid-January. Tanaka has to sign by Jan. 24, and if he takes the maximum amount of time, this story will take us right into SoxFest.