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Saturday, October 12, 2013
Tanaka & justifying $189 million

By Andrew Marchand

Masahiro Tanaka
Bidding for Masahiro Tanaka could make baseball -- and financial -- sense for the Bombers.
The Yankees are expected to bid for Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka, according to a source with knowledge of their plans. They may be aggressive because they need to add a high-end starter and don't view the free-agent options (Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, etc.) on the market as anywhere near sure things for what they will likely cost.

The beauty of going after Tanaka, 24, who some say is better than Yu Darvish, is that the posting figure will not count against the $189 million threshold. If the Yankees were to win the bidding -- which could be $60 million or more -- the Yankees could sign him to a Darvish-like contract of six years and $60 million.

When you start to put together these numbers, you can see how the $189 million cap may not be as bad as some have speculated. The $10 million average annual value that Tanaka might demand is $2 million less than the retiring Andy Pettitte's 2013 number of $12 million.

Plus, it could illustrate Hal Steinbrenner's point that the $189 million threshold is designed to save luxury-tax money that they are currently giving away and instead could be used for the franchise's own purposes. The $60 million posting fee could be seen as an investment, showing one way Steinbrenner will reallocate the money from the tax savings by the self-imposed spending limits.

So it could make both financial and baseball sense.

The Yankees have done a lot of research on Tanaka and clearly are interested. Assistant GM Billy Eppler traveled to Japan to see him, while they sent at least two other scouts to analyze Tanaka. They want to make sure Tanaka's 22-0 record and 1.23 ERA in Japan will translate well in America.

They do like Tanaka. How much? Well, they will express that when posting fees are due. (There is no set date yet.)

But if they were to win the bidding and then sign Tanaka, they may have a fine rotation. If Hiroki Kuroda returns, CC Sabathia revives his career and Ivan Nova steadies himself out, Michael Pineda could be their fifth starter with a lot of support from guys like David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno.

Soon, we will do a Spend Hal's Money on Tanaka, but in the meantime, you can weigh in whether you would like to see him as a Yankee.

QUESTION: Do you want the Yankees to sign Tanaka?