Here are a handful of quick takeaways from Brian Cashman’s conference call to discuss the Masahiro Tanaka signing.
· It wasn’t only the public that was in the dark about Tanaka’s preferences. Cashman said it wasn’t until last night that he found out the Yankees were the leading team in negotiations. Cashman said he trusted that the city and the franchise history basically sold itself, and he knew guys like Hideki Matsui and Hiroki Kuroda would be selling points, but he really had no idea whether the Yankees were the top team until he got a call last night.
· Cashman said he was told that the Yankees contract offer was the largest on the table, but that other teams were “in the vicinity.” Agent Casey Close presented the idea of an opt out, and indicated that he was having no problem getting that from other teams. Cashman said it seemed like a necessity, but obviously not something the Yankees necessarily wanted to do.
· The Yankees began scouting Tanaka in 2007, and they went to 15 of his games this year, including the WBC. “At some point you still have to make a call and make a judgment,” Cashman said. “We obviously believe in this player’s talent. It’s nice to see there are a number of Major League teams that believe in that talent similarly.” As for the decision to invest heavily in Tanaka, Cashman said there was no real tipping point. “He’s just gotten better and better,” Cashman said. “… It seemed like the bigger the game, the more he would step up.”
· During the Yankees face-to-face meeting with Tanaka on January 8, the team had a contingent of eight people to meet with Tanaka and sell him on the idea of joining the Yankees. Their presentation included a video that had footage of the stadium — the stuff Tanaka would have seen had he been able to make a recruiting trip to New York — as well as a sales pitch from Hideki Matsui.
· Cashman downplayed the chances of making another significant financial investment this winter: “I think clearly a lot of heavy lifting needed to take place this winter, and it has taken place,” Cashman said. “I think we’re always looking to improve. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that there will be more heavy lifting that can take place. Bit I also don’t want to say that we’re not going to try to improve ourselves. We’re just going to have to realistically do it in a much cheaper way going forward.”
Associated Press photo