Friday, November 15, 2013
All reports had the Yankees going hot and heavy this winter for Nippon Professional Baseball star Masahiro Tanaka, but because of changes to the posting system Tanaka may be staying in Japan in 2014.
Up until now Major League teams put in blind bids on the rights to negotiate with a NPB player. The team that had the highest bid than had a month to negotiate a deal with the player. If no deal was struck, the amount of the bid was not sent to the Far East.
The complete details have not been announced, but the MLB players union has agreed to the new deal. There's a possibility that the two or three highest bidders would get the chance to negotiate with the player rather than just one team. CBS Sports' Matt Snyder reported that the NPB did not like the proposed idea and would like to receive a fee even if the player doesn't end up signing with an MLB team.
A bigger snag, reported by the NY Times' David Waldstein is coming from MLB, specifically the small market owners. They would like the bid amount to count towards the $189MM luxury tax. In a word, absurd.
The MLB players union will not go along with small market interference and in order to make that kind of a change, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) would have to be re-opened. I don't believe anyone wants that.
One possibility would be for NPB officials to allow a player to negotiate with MLB teams, with a fee to be determined. In the meantime though, the Yankees are going to have to start looking harder at alternatives to the 25-year old Japanese star. Unfortunately, the crop of current free agent pitchers are not in high demand.
MLB Starting Pitcher Free Agents (alphabetical order):
Bronson Arroyo: The 36-year old is a solid National League pitcher, having spent the last 8 years in Cincinnati. Puts up a decent ERA and WHIP, but is a fly ball pitcher. That didn't bode well at the Great American Ballpark and it won't in Yankee Stadium either. Just ask Phil Hughes.
A.J. Burnett: Not Funny!
Bartolo Colon: 40-years old, busted for PED use in 2012. Time to get younger, not fatter.
Matt Garza: About to hit the big 3-0 mark. Never been a big fan of his, think he is overrated. Has been banged up the last two seasons. No thanks.
Roy Halladay: Only if this was five years ago.
Tim Hudson: Remember that part where I said the Yankees need to get younger? Screw that. Hudson knows how to pitch and knows how to win. He'll be 39 in mid-July and I don't care. He's coming off a catastrophic injury (fractured ankle) that occurred when the Mets Eric Young Jr. accidentally stepped on his ankle on a play at first base, and I don't care. Hudson made $9MM the last four years, so give him a two-year, $24MM deal. Hell, throw in a third year.
Ubaldo Jimenez: This is a big risk, with either a big or little reward. Jimenez was bright lights, big city back in 2010 when he won 19 games, had a sub-3.00 ERA and topped 200 in innings and strikeouts. He's had some arm issue since then with the Rockies and Indians, but had a resurgence in the second half (ERA under 2.00) last season.
He'll be looking to get paid after he earned $5.75MM in 2013 and turned down Cleveland's $14.1MM qualifying offer. Despite the fact that he won't turn 30 until January, I don't see the Yankees committing the amount of money Jimenez and his reps will want.
Ricky Nolasco: I can't take another pitcher who spent the bulk of his career with the Marlins. He's likely to stay in the NL anyway.
Ervin Santana: Which Ervin Santana are you going to get? The guy who had an ERA of 3.24 last year or the one who had an ERA of 5.16 the year before. Santana isn't as up and down as it always seems to be, but his performance is inconsistent. A bigger issue may be money. He made $13MM this past season and had one of his better years. Though he'll still be only 31 when the '14 season starts, I'm not willing to give him multiple years at many millions.
Jason Vargas: Became a free agent when the Angels did not extend a qualifying offer to him. I wouldn't mind this guy as a #4 starter in the rotation. Granted, his best days came in a pitcher's ballpark in Seattle, but he's a decent innings eater. He made $8.5MM last year, so a two-year, $18MM offer with an optional third year might do the trick. I wouldn't guarantee three years though. There's a good chance he'll re-sign with the Angels.
No matter how you slice it, not a lot to choose from. The Yankees will also want to reserve some money for Tanaka if they have to wait until 2015 to try to get him.