Dbacks could make biggest FA impact yet with Tanaka signing

For Kevin Towers and the Arizona Diamondbacks to compete in an increasingly competitive NL West, big moves needed to be made this offseason. The team and it’s GM were highly criticized last season for not trading away young prospects to keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ free agent spending spree to win the division. The moves did start for the Dbacks in December when they sent top pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs to the Angels and OF Adam Eaton to the White Sox in a three team trade to acquire power slugger Mark Trumbo. But the moves could potentially end with the club acquiring the crown jewel of the free agent market, 25 year old RHP Masahiro Tanaka from Japan.

Tanaka was an absolute phenom for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japanese Pacific League last season, posting a 24-0 regular season record with a dominant 1.27 ERA. He led the Golden Eagles to their first championship. His complete season record including the playoffs was 30-0. The Eagles have posted Tanaka for a fee of $20 million, making him available to MLB teams for the 2014 season.

And with that, GMs across Major League Baseball began to drool.

How could you not be interested looking at his record and ERA from last season? Most large market teams from the Dodgers to the Yankees to Northern AND Southern Chicago are showing heavy interest in the starting pitcher, who will not be cheap. With the posting fee by the Eagles, the smallest salary any team can expect to pay for Tanaka for one season is $25 million. But Dbacks GM Kevin Towers has stated that Arizona is willing to put up the money in order to obtain Tanaka and contend for a championship next season.

According to a recent interview with Steve Gilbert from MLB.com, Towers and his staff have a plan in place to try to entice Tanaka to sign with the Diamondbacks. What is that plan? The world may never know since KT is playing his cards close to the vest, but, per Ken Rosenthal and several other sources, some speculation has risen that his plans may involve trading closer JJ Putz to the New York Yankees for OF Ichiro Suzuki. This is important because this would not only put one of Masahiro Tanaka’s boyhood idols in the Dbacks clubhouse, but it would help make the transition to the U.S. easier for the RHP. For Arizona, Putz became expendable when they acquired closer Addison Reed from the Chicago White Sox in December, so losing the veteran relief pitcher seems almost inevitable.

Tanaka is in the U.S. meeting with teams today, so it remains to be seen if the Diamondbacks truly have a chance to get their hands on the biggest potential superstar of this free agency signing period. But it they’re able to work out a deal for the 25 year old pitcher, look for the Dbacks to instantly become a contender for the NL West and the World Series. If I were you, I would place your bets now.

 

You can follow Derek on Twitter via @Cap_Kaveman. You’ve been warned.

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