Tanaka To Yankees

The last major free agent signed today, when the New York Yankees inked Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million deal.

It was thought that the Mariners were originally in the running for Tanaka, but recently they were not named among the rumored suitors. It’s all over now – the Yankees got him, paying exactly what was reportedly their final offer to try to keep Robinson Cano.

Tanaka will be one of the most fun players to watch in 2014, simply due to the mystery. This guy went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan last year. Think about that for a minute. It’s not a stretch to say that the Japanese league and Triple-A are roughly the same level (most scouts I speak to say that Japan is just slightly better, due to the presence of a few superstars like Tanaka). Can you imagine a pitcher going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in the PCL?

Now we’ll see what – if anything – the Mariners do. They are currently looking at a starting rotation of Felix, Iwakuma, and then three very young pitchers – from a group of Erasmo Ramirez, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and possibly Blake Beavan.

I am torn over those final three spots. As a fan and an “insider,” I like all four of those guys and it would be a lot of fun to see how the young guys do in the big leagues pitching every fifth day. But the baseball veteran inside my head is screaming “too many freshmen and sophomores! They need another veteran! It’s a long season! Kids break down!”

Which way will the Mariners go? There are still several good veterans on the market – guys who will command money, like Bronson Arroyo, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez. The Mariners should still have plenty of payroll room to add one of these types of pitchers – if they choose to.

Tomorrow is the Mariners pre-spring media conference, and on Friday I’ll have a blog post with all of the Rainiers-related news from that event.

Links:

  • Mariners 2013 draftee D.J. Peterson made MLB.com’s list of the Top 10 Third Base Prospects in the minor leagues.
  • The Mariners will be adding their MLB-mandated metal detectors in 2014 – one year early.
  • Former Rainiers reliever Eric O’Flaherty has signed with the Oakland A’s.
  • There is another international free agent the Mariners might be interested in: pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, whom Lookout Landing dubbed “the Korean question mark.”*
  • In the PCL, the Omaha newspaper caught up with new Storm Chasers manager Brian Poldberg, and asked him about defending the PCL title.
  • The Round Rock Leader took a stab at predicting how the Express will look in April. The story notes that on paper, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is currently a member of the Round Rock Express.
  • Congratulations to Peter Barrouquere on being inducted to the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. Barrouquere covered Triple-A baseball for years in New Orleans, and he is highly respected throughout the PCL. Peter was always very friendly to visiting radio guys, offering to play tour guide while entertaining us with his Cajun accent.

Check back on Friday afternoon – we should have some good tidbits on the 2014 Rainiers!

* I could give that same nickname to about half the guys in my regular poker game.

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