I’m perhaps a little more optimistic than most that the Jays might actually try in good faith to land Masahiro Tanaka, but I’m not delusional enough to actually think they’re going to land him — not with the Yankees and the Dodgers as determined as they appear to do so in their own right. [On Friday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted that the Dodgers would go "all-out" for Tanaka and "certainly won't be out-bid," only to completely walk back the suggestion later.]
In a way, then, I agree with the latest from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, who tells fans not to get their hopes up about the Japanese star pitching in a Jays uniform next year. In another, more realistic way, though, the piece really grinds my gears, forcing me, as it does, to read yet more lazy utterances of the completely bogus suggestion that the Jays’ fake policy limiting contract length will have anything to do with the club’s pursuit of Tanaka ultimately ending up futile.
I hate to sound like a broken record on this [note: not really -- it's super easy!], but I find that I can’t not push back when I get so damn exasperated by stuff like this:
It will be easy for teams to plunk down $20 million to buy their way into the bidding. It won’t be easy to sign him as he will command a seven-year contract, one he will get, with maybe 10 teams interested.
And the Blue Jays, while they like Tanaka — and scout Danny Evans, former Chicago White Sox general manager, has seen him pitch — are not into seven-year deals, rightly or wrongly.
Once again, the suggestion that the Jays’ supposed insistence (though they’ve already admitted it’s bendable!) on not offering deals of that length has anything to do with what will likely ultimately be their inability to sign Tanaka is a giant steaming load. I can’t fathom why so many people are willing to simply swallow the company line on it.
Sure, in the way that it’s usually discussed, adding years to deals implies that money is being added too. When you hear a report that a GM was willing to do a four year deal with a player but wouldn’t add the fifth year, clearly the idea is that it would have been an extra year at similar money. So, OK, if the Jays’ “policy,” dubious as it is to begin with, is bound to the same notion of added years meaning added money — or being the only way to add significant money, as it’s often presented — then a self-imposed limit to contract length obviously does have real world implications on the club’s ability to sign top free agents. It’s just that those implications have zero to do with term, and everything to do with money. Talking about this in terms of term is utterly pointless– not to mention, at this point, interminable.
If Tanaka was determined to take the most total money — as free agents generally are, give or take a few peripheral factors — and the Jays were willing to offer him more money than any other club, they would acquire him, whether they artificially imposed on themselves a seven-year limit, a five-year limit, a three-year limit, or a one-year limit. The contract may end up having an unusually high average annual value (which would have luxury tax implications for a team like the Jays, if they had ever been close to spending enough to reach that stratum), but there is no way that it couldn’t — or wouldn’t — be done.
Once again, it’s impossibly simple. Once again, we shouldn’t be so willing to allow the club to use the excuse.
Elsewhere in the piece Elliott says he has a source that tells him “Tanaka wants to go to a World Series, wants a city where his family will feel at home since they don’t speak English. He has a desire to be on a team with potential to win and loves the pressure.” He also compares the current process to the Yu Darvish circus and, refreshingly, points out that Jays fans got so lathered up two years ago based not on shady, groundless internet innuendo or blog-fuelled speculation — as I feel is sometimes is the characterization — but by people from “credible” organizations like the Dallas Morning News (and, though unnamed, the New York Post, as well).
That’s all pretty terrific, interesting, valuable stuff for his readership, I’d say — though it’s not necessarily good for the Jays’ chances of landing him.
Perpetuating the myth about The Policy, and not total money, being the concern when it comes to the club’s chances of making a serious bid for Tanaka, however, helps nobody. Except maybe Rogers and the Jays themselves, who apparently would rather be skewered for their strict adherence to a silly supposed self-imposed rule than for lacking the funds or the wherewithal to throw in more good money after so much of last year’s spending went bad.