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Tanaka to the Twins: What Would It Take?

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#1 Zephrin

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 03:33 PM

Now that Masahiro Tanaka has been posted under a system that essentially allows every interested MLB club to take a shot, what would it take for the Twins to land him? Initial parameters might be as follows:

Floor: Yu Darvish's 6 year, $108 Million investment (~$52 post/$56 contract)

Ceiling: Justin Verlander's 7 year, $180 Million Contract (No matter how much a team might like him, he's still not a proven MLB commodity.)

Consensus seems to be that teams will be willing to pay Tanaka in contract at a similar rate that they would have previously paid for the total investment, so let's project the total investment to be something in the neighborhood of $140 million (7/$120 + $20 posting).

Now for the real question:

If the "desirable" teams are willing to offer around $20 million per season (up slightly from Darvish's $18 million total investment per season), how much more would the Twins have to pay to land him? I ask this because we just saw Cano make Seattle go, reportedly, an extra 3 years and $65 million to lure him away from the "desirable" New York Yankees. And let's face it, the Twins have lot of shortcomings:

  • Limited Japanese culture/fanbase in M/SP
  • Fewer "extras" such as advertising/endorsements (though it probably wouldn't limit his continued exposure in Japan)
  • Not a "no income tax" State
  • Not ready to win now (though perhaps he could be sold on potential?)
  • Lack of team infrastructure to foster assimilation into the culture of the MLB game (whether it is the Twins fault or not, Nishi did not succeed in our system)

All in all, I would expect the Twins to have to go more years or more dollars (or both). Perhaps 7/$175 (+ posting) would get it done? Or Maybe he would take security and go with 10/$180 (+ posting)? Either way, we're talking about a $200 million investment.

Terry Ryan might be looking to change his stripes, but signing Tanaka might be more like changing from a zebra into a lion.

#2 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:07 PM

You have to believe Seattle is going to go hard at him. Their new TV contract represents an additional $75M/yr plus the national TV contract so their rvenue just went up by $100M. The only variable cost associated with that revenue is payroll tax.

The Yankees have a decision to make in terms of getting under $189M. They are the favorite if they decide to give up on that idea. Of course, the Dodgers are in the 2nd year of the biggest TV contract in history. Their TV revenue substantially surpassess the Twins total revenue. Did the rangers take themselves out of the running when they signed Choo? You have to believe Boston will be in on Tanaka too.

#3 Thrylos

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:29 PM

My answer to the original question (what it would take) would be: a. for the Twins to offer a better contract than others and b. for Tanaka to want to go to Minnesota. And b. might actually be more challenging than one might think, since this transaction has to close within a month of posting, which will make him make his first trip to MPLS January/early February time frame. Not good. Especially if he flies there straight after visiting the Padres, Angels or Dodgers...

That said, the Twins should stay away from anything longer than a 3 year contract. The jury on Darvish is still out, but as far as Japanese SPs go, the only pitcher with sustained success for more than 2 seasons (which was the cap on Dice-K and Nomo) is Kuroda who is no ace by any means. I really do not trust the level of competition in Japan. Nishioka had a .346/.423/.482 slash line there when the Twins signed him.

Clearly the level of competition is AA-like. And if the Twins want a AA star, who is more than a year younger than Tanaka, potentially has better stuff, and strikes out slightly more (28.1% vs 27.1% K%) batters than Tanaka, all they have to do is to look on the New Britain and the AFL roster last season. And he will come pretty cheap for the next 6 seasons...
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#4 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:46 PM

I don't see the Twins being very interested in this... not anymore at least.

that's just me.

#5 AHSaves

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:52 PM

Scout all you want, there's a reason why fringe MLB players go to Japan and have success. The level of competition isnt close. To post $20MM then drop double digits for a 6-8 year contract doesn't make sense to me. I'd rather sign Garza, a proven commodity for less years. Or even trade Perk for a couple of those great Padres prospects. I understand the risk/reward argument but I'd rather walk the tightrope to Garza's house than Japan.

#6 pierre75275

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:58 PM

At first, I was really hoping the Twins would be in this. But anymore, I'm leaning toward not so much. To spend more money on somebody who most likely has less talent that Yu Davarish doesn't make much sense to me anymore, when somebody like Garza could be had for half the risk.

#7 Joe A. Preusser

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 04:59 PM

My answer to the original question (what it would take) would be: a. for the Twins to offer a better contract than others and b. for Tanaka to want to go to Minnesota. And b. might actually be more challenging than one might think, since this transaction has to close within a month of posting, which will make him make his first trip to MPLS January/early February time frame. Not good. Especially if he flies there straight after visiting the Padres, Angels or Dodgers...

That said, the Twins should stay away from anything longer than a 3 year contract. The jury on Darvish is still out, but as far as Japanese SPs go, the only pitcher with sustained success for more than 2 seasons (which was the cap on Dice-K and Nomo) is Kuroda who is no ace by any means. I really do not trust the level of competition in Japan. Nishioka had a .346/.423/.482 slash line there when the Twins signed him.

Clearly the level of competition is AA-like. And if the Twins want a AA star, who is more than a year younger than Tanaka, potentially has better stuff, and strikes out slightly more (28.1% vs 27.1% K%) batters than Tanaka, all they have to do is to look on the New Britain and the AFL roster last season. And he will come pretty cheap for the next 6 seasons...


I'm not sure it is "clearly" AA level competition in Japan. Sometimes talent translates well, sometimes it does not. There are a host of other variables in play, not the least of which is the culture shock of playing in a foreign country very different than what you are used to. To suggest that the Japanese league ranks in the middle of our minor league system seems a bit ethnocentric and condescending.

And how exactly is the jury still out on Darvish?

#8 kab21

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 05:46 PM

It would be shocking if the Twins were in on Tanaka at this point after spending 80M on pitchers already this offseason. And this is precisely why the FA starting pitching market has mostly been in standstill.

I would have no problem if the Twins spent silly money on Tanaka. He might not be an ace but it's likely that he would be pretty good (likely the Twins ace for awhile). Signing Tanaka would require the Twins to push their payroll to 125M in the next couple of years but that shouldn't be a ridiculous number.

#9 Thrylos

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 06:21 PM

And how exactly is the jury still out on Darvish?


Darvish, like Dice-K and Nomo, had exactly 2 good seasons. Let's see what the future brings
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#10 drock2190

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 06:33 PM

Darvish is for real. Sure his pitch count gets a little high, but all his pitches are strikeout pitches.

He's nasty, I would perform back-flips if he was in our rotation.

#11 mudcat14

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 07:02 PM

Nishioka's failure at a relatively modest expenditure will prevent the Twins from spending what will be required to land Tanaka. I'm not so sure he will end up being worth what he will cost anyway. I think I'd rather see how things shake out with Garza at half the price.

#12 Trevor0333

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 07:11 PM

I would think he won't be looking for a 6-7 year deal, you want to hit the FA market again before you reach 30 optimally. So I dont think one of those lifetime contracts will be necesary to land him. The tax situation is definitely something that needs to be thought about. Going to Texas or Florida with no state taxes you will need to outbid those teams to make an equal offer.

With a future OF consisting of Buxton/Hicks and Sano on the brink in a pitcher friendly park MN is a desirable long term option. I still think it would take a 4 year 20-22 mill a year deal to land him in MN.

Texas, LAD, & NYY are the 3 places I expect to be the real contenders for his services with Cubs & Red Sox as sleepers. Seattle & the Angels are already too stretched payroll wise to be suitable IMO.

I would love to land him but Im not sure it makes sense for the Twins. I'd still prefer to jump in on Garza for 4 years at 15 per while teams are bidding on Tanaka.

#13 glunn

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 07:13 PM

There was a thread a while back where someone linked an article about Tanaka being likely to have arm problems down the road because he relies heavily on a pitch that stresses a pitcher's arm. Can someone repost that link?

#14 twinsin17

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 07:16 PM

Tanaka will be showered with attention the next 30 days from teams that pony up his posting fee. This gives the Twins a perfect opportunity to swoop in and woo Garza/Santana/Jimenez or pickup Arroyo on the cheap.

#15 TheLeviathan

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 07:46 PM

I'd love this but I think they've spent all they can this offseason on pitching. Be a pleasant surprise though, if you are landing high upside/talent...go for it.

#16 twinsfan34

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 07:59 PM

I'm not sure it is "clearly" AA level competition in Japan. Sometimes talent translates well, sometimes it does not. There are a host of other variables in play, not the least of which is the culture shock of playing in a foreign country very different than what you are used to. To suggest that the Japanese league ranks in the middle of our minor league system seems a bit ethnocentric and condescending.

And how exactly is the jury still out on Darvish?


He cost an absured $9.5M and didn't win a Cy Young. The Jury is still out - 2nd is the 1st loser. If teams are willing to throw out $9.5M for 5 wins (WAR) - what is MLB coming to with that sort of idiocy?

Fansgraphs: http://www.fangraphs...3074&position=P

Rangers have been looking to send him to back to Japan a la the Twins and Colabello.

His 277 strikeouts at 11.9 k/9 was purely luck of hitter not having seen him for more than 2 seasons.

I've watched no less than 5 games in person - he makes hitters look like AA-ball competition - like he had back in Japan.

Edited by twinsfan34, 26 December 2013 - 08:01 PM.


#17 twinsfan34

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 08:04 PM

Who's the better AA-prospect:

Jose Dariel Abreu, Masahiro Tanaka, Javier Baez, or Alex Meyer?

#18 Zephrin

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:50 PM

Tanaka will be showered with attention the next 30 days from teams that pony up his posting fee. This gives the Twins a perfect opportunity to swoop in and woo Garza/Santana/Jimenez or pickup Arroyo on the cheap.


I have a feeling that Garza, Santana and Jimenez will be on hold until February. The losers in Tanaka-palooza will come begging with bags of unused money. If any of their agents let them sign in the next month I would be surprised.

#19 DocBauer

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 11:37 PM

Unlikely, but possible Minnesota could be seen as a quality location for him. There is a clear need for a frontline starting pitcher, he'd be "the man" there, there would be somewhat less pressure and media attention on him, it's one of the most beautiful parks in MLB, and by most accounts a good pitchers park. And if he doesn't sign for too many years, he could still be looking at an even bigger payday as a late 20 early 30 SP.

As I stated, somewhat unlikely, but not unreasonable circumstances. But even if true, I'd stay away. It's not about the posting fee. At least 6, and probably as many as 10 or 12 teams will post the 20M. In the long run, they can all probably afford it.

For a moment, forget about the failed Nishi experiment. Forget about Japanese pitchers success, or lack thereof, at the MLB level, or any arguments as to AA or AAA level of talent overall in Japan. Honestly now, how many 25y.o. SP have you EVER seen that you would feel comfortable giving $15-20M per year at 6+ years to?

If I had a crystal ball I felt I could trust, OK. I just don't feel comfortable with this idea.

#20 jorgenswest

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 11:45 PM

I wonder if Tanaka's status helped the Twins.

Several teams are interested. Those that lose out will be going after Garza, Santana and Jimenez. There are more than 4 teams interested. Signing Nolasco early (perhaps by giving a year more than others offered at the time) may have beat the competition waiting for resolution on Tanaka.

It appeared that Ryan didn't read the market correctly last year. This year he seems to be ahead of the game.

#21 Riverbrian

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 11:50 PM

Reports I'm reading suggest that the SP FA market is being held up by Tanaka. If Tanaka is holding things up. Teams will be competitive. If teams are competitive for him... He blows past Darvish in years and dollars.

Purely a guess... I'd say at least 7 years and probably around 150 for the Twins to land him.

Yankees... Dodgers... Red Sox... I'll throw the Mariners in as well for Japanese consideration could get it done for 6 and 120. Purely a guess because I have no idea.
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#22 zchrz

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 12:51 AM

So just kind of a random thought that probably has an easy answer but what is stopping a good prospect that is coming out of high school/ college in the US from skipping the draft, signing with a Japanese team, and then getting posted after a year or two. If someone like Mark Appel had went to Japan for a year, wouldn't it be a win/win for the team to make the posting fee and Appel to skip the cheap arbitration years and have a choice of teams to sign with?
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#23 Trevor0333

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 04:01 AM

So just kind of a random thought that probably has an easy answer but what is stopping a good prospect that is coming out of high school/ college in the US from skipping the draft, signing with a Japanese team, and then getting posted after a year or two. If someone like Mark Appel had went to Japan for a year, wouldn't it be a win/win for the team to make the posting fee and Appel to skip the cheap arbitration years and have a choice of teams to sign with?


Any HS/College player from the US is eligible to be drafted. IF they are undrafted they are free to sign any FA deal. IF the draftee fails to sign that year they can play over seas or in independent leagues & re-enter the draft next season. The team then gets a comp pick for not signing the player.

I believe that if that process plays out a 2nd year in a row they would be a FA going into the 3rd year. Im not positive about that rule.

#24 Trevor0333

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 04:16 AM

If I was Boston, I would outbid the Yankees on Tanaka who want him desperately. Then flip both Lester & Lackey who are in their final years to teams other than the Yankees who need a SP & lost out on Tanaka.

#25 johnnydakota

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 05:35 AM

I don't see the Twins being very interested in this... not anymore at least.

that's just me.


The Twins never were, Once he cost more then 2 bunches of bananas and a donkey , you know they were looking for an exit stratogy. with the payroll being capibale of 127.5 million this year with out using the all star money I agree the Pohlads should just pocket that extra 45 million on top of the normal 10% or 20+ million,after all they got us that shinny new palace right, its not like 2009 payroll was 79 million was it? ...bottom line is the Twins need to post bid and win on Masahiro and then turn around and sign Garza to boot ....

#26 Marta Shearing

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 06:15 AM

This guy could be a bust of Hideki Irabu proportions. Garza for half the price makes far more sense.

#27 cmathewson

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 09:00 AM

It rarely makes sense to bid in a market of scarcity. It rarely makes sense to buy when the player's value is at its zenith. If both conditions hold, you should always pass.
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#28 kab21

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:23 AM

I would think he won't be looking for a 6-7 year deal, you want to hit the FA market again before you reach 30 optimally. So I dont think one of those lifetime contracts will be necesary to land him. The tax situation is definitely something that needs to be thought about. Going to Texas or Florida with no state taxes you will need to outbid those teams to make an equal offer.

With a future OF consisting of Buxton/Hicks and Sano on the brink in a pitcher friendly park MN is a desirable long term option. I still think it would take a 4 year 20-22 mill a year deal to land him in MN.

Texas, LAD, & NYY are the 3 places I expect to be the real contenders for his services with Cubs & Red Sox as sleepers. Seattle & the Angels are already too stretched payroll wise to be suitable IMO.

I would love to land him but Im not sure it makes sense for the Twins. I'd still prefer to jump in on Garza for 4 years at 15 per while teams are bidding on Tanaka.


No, players want the most guaranteed money they can get. 6-7 years is a lifetime for a pitcher and if he's getting 20+M/yr as expected then he'll take every year he can get. The exception is taking a 1 year offer after a poor season.

#29 johnnydakota

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:45 AM

Ive said it before the Twins only chance is to sell Tanaka on a short contract to establish himself , see what each team is like, in a non pressure sitituation, like Minnesota, then hope you can get good enough in that time frame that he wants to stay....say a 2+1 deal.Thus making him a 28 year old FA with a proven track record

#30 bphat1

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 10:49 AM

I could not agree more. The Twins have no chance, and my guess is they have no interest because they know they have no chance. It's fun to talk about unless you actually think about it. Cause when you think about it, you realize quickly how unrealistic Tanaka to the Twins really is.