The week of Christmas is typically a slow week for baseball news, and this year was no exception. Except, of course, for one huge exception.
Masahiro Tanaka has been posted. Despite the new rules, the Rakuten Golden Eagles have granted Tanaka’s wishes and made him available to all big league teams. He will sign with one of them within a month, and he seems to be a perfect fit for the Yankees wants and needs. It’s the kind of news we’ve been waiting for all winter, and it just happened to come on Christmas Eve.
Now there’s a different sort of wait as the bidding will likely carry into late January.
Tom Verducci, who’s written extensively about pitch counts, has noted that Tanaka’s workload is pretty extreme and a cause for concern. Still have to think several teams will decide he’s worth the financial risk. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is working to make sure those teams don’t find a way to sneak extra money to Rakuten in the process of signing Tanaka.
It’s still an ongoing story, but the past week did bring at least one significant answer: Tanaka is available, and the negotiations have begun.
• Melky Mesa signed a minor league deal with the Royals. The long-time Yankees prospect has always kept people’s attention with his raw tools, but he’s also struck out far too often to be considered a truly elite young player. He got a little bit of big league time with the Yankees, but not enough to be a real part of their future plans. He was released and ultimately landed with Kansas City.
• Former Yankees Mike Hegan and Paul Blair passed away this week.
• Regular season came to an end in the Dominican Winter League, and Zoilo Almonte finished with pretty good numbers. Probably not enough to make him a favorite for a big league job next season, but enough to suggest he’s healthy and has a shot to make the team in spring training.
• Having been designated for assignment last week, pitching prospect Brett Marshall was lost on waivers when the Cubs claimed him. Not a bad pitcher at all, but had a bad Triple-A season that might have given the Yankees some hope of slipping him through waivers and keeping him in the organization.
• Bob Klapisch reported that an Alex Rodriguez suspension decision could come in “very early” January, suggesting we could be only days away from finding out how much time Rodriguez will miss (and how much he’ll be paid).
Associated Press photos