In Which We Act Like We Never Wanted Masahiro Tanaka Anyway


By now, you’ve no doubt heard that the Yankees have agreed to sign Masahiro Tanaka, which means that Tanaka either preferred to play in New York or the Yankees simply made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, which was basically my expectation from the beginning.

That means that the Dodgers won’t be adding Tanaka to their already talent-laden roster, and that’s going to make some fans extremely disappointed. The new Dodgers are supposed to outspend everyone and acquire anyone they’ve set their sights on, and so far they basically have. But that doesn’t extend to Tanaka… and while we’ve had been dancing for joy if he were a Dodger, here’s where we can childishly act like we never wanted him in the first place.

Holy lord, that’s a lot of money!

The Yankees didn’t just give Tanaka $155 million; they spent $175 million including the posting fee. (Yes, there’s an opt-out, so it might not be that much in the end.) And then even more because this completely blows away their plan to stay under the luxury tax, an issue would would have affected the Dodgers too. (Not that they care.) The total outlay here might be over $200 million for a man who, while expected to be very good, is not regarded as being as good as Yu Darvish, if I can use the cliched and potentially offensive trope of “compare guy from country to other guy from country.” He’d be the third best starter on the Dodgers, arguably fourth.

That’s an insane amount of money for someone with no big league experience, and while I’d certainly prefer him over, say, Josh Beckett — and you know the Yankees will be thrilled to get, I don’t know, Adam Warren out of the rotation — it’s an absolutely enormous risk. It also makes the Clayton Kershaw deal, which I already loved, look that much better. With Kershaw, you know what you get. With Tanaka? It’s hard to be certain.

His arm could explode!

I know, any pitcher’s arm could explode. But still, read quotes like this from Buster Olney and try not to cringe:

The day before, in Game 6, Tanaka had thrown a staggering 160 pitches in a complete-game loss, a workload that would reduce almost all pitchers to the role of spectator for the season finale. But in the hours before Game 7, Tanaka’s body language screamed to Jones and McGehee: He intended to pitch. They couldn’t believe it.

And pitch he did. He’s only 25, yet there’s a lot of miles on that arm. No, that guarantees absolutely nothing, of course. But he’s not a Dodger, so, now we can be negative.

It’s harder to hate the Dodgers now!

I mean, everyone already hates the Dodgers. Look at the ridiculous payroll. The absurd amounts of talent. Who pays $10m for a guy who isn’t even going to close? The Dodgers. Who takes on a quarter-billion in contracts from Boston? The Dodgers. Who signs deals in the tens of millions seemingly every other week? The Dodgers.

That’s going to make them the big evil enemy already, but if you added Tanaka to a rotation and a team that was already stuffed with quality, well, just imagine the backlash. It’s partially why I couldn’t really get invested and wasn’t sad when he didn’t come to Los Angeles; he was a bonus, not a need. Now we can all hate the Yankees, like usual! It’s like the deity of your choice intended.

Prospects might actually pitch!

If you added Tanaka to Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, and Hyun-jin Ryu, there’s your rotation. So long, Zach Lee! Smell you later, Ross Stripling! Good luck next time, Chris Reed! Now? Well, that still might happen, if rumors about Bronson Arroyo lead to anything, and who knows if Beckett and Chad Billingsley prove to be roadblocks. But at least there’s a chance now that you could see some of your favorite homegrown players, and for some, that’s a big win.

So long, Masahiro. Frankly, I’m just glad this is finally over with.


About Mike Petriello

Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is