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MLB Free Agent Rumors: Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes In Full Bloom

Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka Is a wanted man with teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Rangers all making their interest known.

Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

The free agency sweepstakes for Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka only formally commenced just 48 hours ago and already the consensus seems Major League Baseball may never be the same.

Indeed, all the hype over the hard-throwing, power-pitching right-hander who flirted with perfection to the tune of a 24-0 record and a 1.27 ERA in the Japanese League last season seems that high. And if seeing, albeit video tape, is believing — it may well be justified.

The 25-year Tanaka and his agent, Casey Close, will now have until the evening of Jan. 24 to sign with a team of his choosing. Whoever emerges as the lucky winner will instantly owe his old Rakuten Golden Eagles team a $20 million posting fee and from there things are expected to really get pricey with Tanaka expected to attract a market in the neighborhood of $100 million over five to six years.

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Still, given his once-in-a-lifetime repertoire and velocity, there are no shortage of would-be takers. The Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Phillies, A’s and Astros are all expected to make their interest known.

The meeting was exploratory in nature,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn told ESPN of the negotiating-opening meeting he executive president Kenny Williams and manager Robin Ventura all held with Tanaka on Thursday. “It was an opportunity for us to sit down with Masahiro and discuss how he potentially fits our vision for the Chicago White Sox for the next several seasons.”

The Dodgers, who are salivating at the thought of being able to add Tanaka to a rotation that already includes National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, have also been quick out the gate in speaking with Close. Already this offseason, the team has added quality, veteran starter Dan Haren to the mix and also has Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett as part of the rotation.

“I talked to Casey as soon as they announced he was going to be posted and as soon as they announced Casey would represent him,” GM Ned Colletti told  “Obviously, Casey and I go back quite a while,” he added of the man that also represents Kershaw. “They’re in a feeling-out process. They’re trying to learn about different cities, different teams, different markets, how teams are constructed going forward. You know, it’s a big decision for the player, too, so we’ve had those types of conversations and we’ll continue to see where it goes.”

The always big-spending Yankees also figure to be among the last potential suitors standing. The top of the Yankees rotation features veteran hurlers C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, then falls to the unproven likes of Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Vidal Nuno.

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