Looking for even more reason to believe the Yankees might be willing to spend big should Masahiro Tanaka hit the open market? Check out Jeff Passan’s report about a failed attempt to sign outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
According to Passan, the Yankees offered Choo seven years, $140 million. The offer came in the small window after Robinson Cano agreed with Seattle and before Carlos Beltran landed with the Yankees.
The Choo contract offer is an indication that the Yankees aren’t out of the market on $100-million contracts, which is probably what it’s going to take to sign Tanaka. What the Yankees have shown this winter is a willingness to still spend lavishly on certain players. They desperately needed offense, so they spent big money on Beltran, Brian McCann, and Jacoby Ellsbury (and they were willing to do so for Choo). The second base market didn’t include that type of hitter, so the Yankees went cheap in filling that hole.
Now the Yankees most pressing need is pitching, and Brian Cashman has made no secret that he recognizes that weakness. The free agent starting pitchers out there right now aren’t great — and the Yankees trade chips are limited — but Tanaka’s blend of youth and potential might be the combination that sends the Yankees into free-spending mode again.
Granted, the annual salary of $20 million offered to Choo has already been spent — that’s basically what Beltran, Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton received — so if $189 million is more of a mandate than the Yankees are letting on, then Tanaka isn’t going to fit unless Alex Rodriguez’s suspension is upheld (even then it’s tight). But if the biggest thing stopping the Yankees from making another big splash is simply finding a splash worth making, Tanaka makes at least as much sense as Choo. Probably more.