I’m a few hours late on this one, for obvious reasons, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t make a quick post about the off-season having finally, finally turned the long corner towards spring with the world coming tonight that Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka will indeed be posted, and free to sign with any Major League club, provided they pay the Rakuten Golden Eagles a fee of $20-million. The news team here at theScore has all the details you’ll need.
The Jays will be hard pressed to land the free agent market’s best available pitcher– though I wouldn’t necessarily rule them out, if only because so many other teams have already spent themselves out of the market for pitching– but this obviously has greater implications than the landing spot of this one man. Alex Anthopoulos continues to need to find as much of a starting pitching upgrade as he can, and with clarity in Tanaka’s situation, movement may soon be afoot when it comes to Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, and Ervin Santana. Clubs’ seriousness about those pitchers will take shape as suitors drop out of the running for Tanaka, and while the agents for the trio of alternatives may wait until the bitter end of that process in order to maximize the number of teams bidding for their clients, we can at the very least now see the finish line on the horizon.
The Jays may not be able to land any of these guys, but they certainly have a better chance to do so with four of them available than with three. They also, perhaps quite wisely, kept all of their other trade chips this winter, which will allow them to try to use the trade market in order to acquire a big arm as well– either as an alternative to a free agent market they find themselves getting priced out on, or perhaps even as their primary target, should the bidding war on the trade market slow down as other clubs get wrapped up with free agents and, ultimately, find their options filled.
Anthopoulos has protected his flexibility well this winter, but now the time has arrived for him to make use of it.