Let the bidding begin


NEW YORK -- Today is the day the bidding war for Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka officially begins, and while, according to a source, the Yankees have yet to fire their first shot, when they do enter the fray they will go in heavy.

And on the other side of the negotiation, they will find a familiar face: Casey Close, Derek Jeter's longtime agent who in his last two negotiations with the Yankees came away with more for his client than many expected him to get. In 2010, with it widely known that Jeter didn't want to play anywhere else and no known suitors courting him, the Yankees wound up giving their then-36-year-old Captain a three-year deal worth $51 million with an option for a fourth year, despite much public saber-rattling.

And this off-season, despite being obligated to pay Jeter just $9.5 million for his option year as per his contract, the Yankees wound up giving Jeter $12 million, even though he played fewer than 20 games after breaking his ankle the previous October.

Now, with at least a half-dozen, and probably more, teams joining in on the Tanaka sweepstakes due to the affordable $20 million posting fee, the Yankees will need to be prepared to pay a steep price for Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013. After having passed on Yu Darivsh a couple of years ago, only to see him become a star for the Texas Rangers, the temptation to bid -- and possibly overbid -- for Tanaka is undoubtedly strong, especially with the Yankees lacking a true ace in their starting rotation and the prospect of no real help emerging from the farm system.

The negotiating window is open for 30 days, and slams shut on January 24 at 5 p.m. Gentlemen, open your wallets.