At this point I tend to not think that the Jays are going to be major players in the race to land Japan’s Next Big Thing, pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. There are simply too many teams with too much money and too many incentives– like the fact that only Tanaka’s contract, and not the posting fee, will count towards the Yankees’ much talked-about luxury tax figure– to see the Jays as the kind of strong bidders for him that most of us would hope they will be.

There is also the fact that, as yet– and as I noted in our previous post– there have been no reports of Alex Anthpoulos going to Japan to watch Tanaka pitch, with Dan Evans and Andrew Tinnish having been seemingly sent instead (at least according to what we’ve heard). Maybe I’m not giving enough credit to a couple of AA’s trusted lieutenants– or maybe the fact that Anthopoulos possibly didn’t go was, in fact, a way to help manage expectations that ran so wildly out of control two years ago in the frenzy over Yu Darvish– but you’d have to think that if the reports the club was hearing on him were in line with the kind of contract they expect him to get, and they were actually serious about spending the kind of money on him that they’ll need to, the GM himself would have gone to take a look.

Even if I’m wrong on that, there is also the matter of the club’s budget, and the fact that Anthopoulos seems as though he would like to act quickly to address his club’s needs. Certainly he couldn’t put all of his eggs into that one basket, since, should he fail, many of the other targets would be off the market by the time Tanaka’s status is sorted, and he could very likely wind up holding a big bag of cash with no one appropriate to spend it on.

If the club did want to make a move for the pitcher, though, it seems like the conditions got at least a little bit more favourable for them tonight, as Ken Davidoff of Newsday tweets about some potential changes coming to the posting system:

He later clarified, explaining that the plan would be to make the final bid the average of the top two bids (protecting the highest bidding team from themselves, essentially), and added that the top bidding team would still win exclusive negotiating rights.

If this ends up being the case, it’s quite different than some of the rumblings we’ve been hearing over the past several weeks. The fear, at least around here, was that the changes to the posting system would allow the player to exercise some measure of control over where he ended up. I wrote in late October about a report from Davidoff’s Newsday colleague, David Lennon, who told us that one of the proposals being mulled over would have let the player choose one team from among the top three bidders to grant his exclusive negotiating rights to. This, of course, eliminated much of the advantage that the Jays might have had by reinstituting their main disadvantage: the club’s perceived lack of desirability as compared to other markets.

Now, we know that’s a bit of a myth– Winfield and Molitor and Burnett and Frank Thomas showed us that the Jays can lure guys under the right circumstances and with the right amount of money– but even if you remove the silly “Canada” factor, given the competitive division, poor record of success, and poor pitching and fielding environment, it’s not at all that far fetched to think it would be tough to get someone to take the Jays’ money when they’re being offered basically the same deal by a club like the Yankees, or Rangers, or Dodgers, or Red Sox, or Cubs, or even a club like the Mariners, with their established connections with Japan, and– in Tanaka’s case– a friend on the team in Hisashi Iwakuma.

Should the changes go ahead as Davidoff is hearing, though, “all” the Jays would then need to do is outbid everyone else. Easier said than done, huh?

So… there’s that.

Comments (23)

  1. Sign Tanaka. You know you want to AA.


  2. Why exactly would NPB even do this exactly?

  3. Here’s a crazy idea. Why don’t they just have open bids!!!! Works fine at car auctions.

    Lack of transparency has always worked well in the past right???

  4. I think this could have the opposite effect. A team that thinks it has the best shot may overbid, with the thinking they’ll pay less anyway.

    I don’t know, seems quite pointless to me. Having the player choose from the top 3 bids would be fair, I think the player deserves some choice, they are not high school rookies being drafted.

    • High schoolers should have the same rights too, but yeah.

    • Dont know about the overbid idea.

      Takes some serious balls to assume your massively outbidding the market and planning to pay much less than your offer.

  5. Well MLB is the customer here. They are paying NPB teams for the players.

    Plus MLB has more money, a bigger market, a more desirable league to play in and the influence of a 10 tonne gorilla in the baseball world.

    Now that I look at it I’m not sure why we all assumed the changes would be better for Japanese players and teams when they clearly have almost 0 leverage.

  6. I agree that the Jays would be longshots to sign Tanaka because they have no history of outbidding other teams with more resources.

    I don’t agree that it would have anything to do with whether AA had been to see Tanaka.
    You’d think at that level General Managers would leave the player evaluation and scouting to the dozens of scouts under their employ. He has to trust the judgement of his director of scouting. Did AA go watch Hechavaria or Barreto or the last few first round picks? I don’t know but I doubt it.

    • We’re talking an exponentially bigger commitment than on those guys. From everything I know about how AA operates, he’d want to have seen a guy he’s committing $100-million to in person. Could be wrong, but I’d be shocked.

      Of course, he may have gone over and we don’t know it, but I really don’t see it any other way.

  7. Just thinking out loud…

    Would the Jays be better off with Shelby Miller in the starting rotation and the “all glove” Pete Kozma at short? Or better with Reyes and current soldiers?

    Cardinals are quite publicly searching for a star SS and have been discussing Tulowitski.
    If you’re to believe some of the rumours the Rockies are asking for a kings ransom. (Miller plus Craig, prospects…etc)

    It seems this would be an opportunity to get some pitching without taxing the prospect pool. Kozma didn’t hit much this year but he has upside and a change of scenery could be good.

    Would you do Miller + Kozma for Reyes? ( even if they needed a bit more like one of our bullpen arms?)

    • Pete kozma is terrible.

      • Just awful.

      • He was bad but he can field the ball. The point of this comment was, should we consider Reyes for a youg star pitcher when the Cards are clearly in the market. I don’t care who the fuck plays ss, just as long as they can field the ball.\

        My question was, would we be better or worse off.

        Read between the lines nipples.

  8. Stoeten, that comment of law’s about Arencibia which you quoted in the rumours post – think there’s anything more to it then idle speculation? As in, do you think Law would make a statement like that without having any clue beyond what everyone else would have?

    • What would the difference, be, really? We don’t need inside information to know that going to the team president to complain about the radio guys, and all the other bullshit, probably didn’t help the case of the worst player by OBP in four decades.

  9. [...] Andrew Stoeten at DJF picks up an update from Ken Davidoff of the New York Post on Twitter that there is “cautious [...]

  10. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe Cashman or any Yankees executives have gone over to Japan to watch Tanaka, either. They did send some scouts.

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