Truthfully, I would be happy to be wrong on this one. While it seems unlikely that Tanaka’s 24-0 record from last season would easily translate to Major League Baseball, there is reason to believe that the Japanese pitcher could do very well in the United States.
Still, I don’t see this happening.
Why? Call it a hunch. Yes, the Mariners broke the bank on Robinson Cano. However, it has been fairly quiet since then and there are rumors that this may have been their one and only big spending spree. The acquisitions of Corey Hart, Logan Morrison and Willie Bloomquist are much more suited to Seattle’s style of doing business.
Therefore, it would not be shocking if the Mariners are not authorized by Nintendo to go all-in on Tanaka.
There is also the reality that the New York Yankees are involved. Granted, the days of the Bronx Bombers simply outbidding everyone may be gone. The Yanks still have a ton of money, and the bulk of their contracts will be above market value.
What is different in today’s market is that the Yankees are being a bit more savvy on long-term deals. They probably could have given Cano the money that he wanted, but strangely enough the Yankees made the better business decision than the Mariners. No team should give a baseball player a ten-year deal.
The fact that the Yankees turned around and signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year deal shows that there is still plenty of spending power. Even Ellsbury’s deal may hurt the Yankees eventually. And yet, the winning bid for Tanaka may come from the American League East.
New York could use another starting pitcher, and it seems reasonable to assume that they won’t get outbid by the Mariners again. If I am wrong, then I am wrong.
Seattle may indeed be “involved” but Jack Zduriencik is going to be sufficiently cagey about the how the Mariners will approach this. Part of that is good negotiating tactics, and part of it is the standard rhetoric.
Perhaps the Mariners will make a lowball offer and hope for some Nintendo influence. Then again, the Mariners may only show cursory interest in order to give an ongoing impression that the club is serious about being competitive.
We’ll find out after the deadline on January 24.