If the Astros want teams, players and fans to know they’re serious about building a winner, they should join in the bidding on Masahiro Tanaka.
If the Astros want to build a winner using the draft and minor leagues as a foundation and continue to follow the Jeff Luhnow blueprint, they shouldn’t tie up a seven-year contract and the projected $150 million to sign the guy.
Those two statements may seem to contradict each other, but they don’t. Earlier this off season, Houston bid for Jose Dariel Abreu, but the numbers fell short to the White Sox, who ultimately signed the Cuban player for six years, $68 million.
Expect a similar approach for Tanaka, who’s open to negotiate with any team willing to ante up a $20 million posting bid. The Astros really have nothing to lose since that $20 million isn’t due unless they actually sign Tanaka. The price to just talk is nothing, nada, zilch.
But if an ultimate offer is made, rest assured the media, teams, players and fans will know the numbers, just as the prospective $60 million the Astros bid for Abreu.
Now, after Tanaka signs with the Yankees, Angels, Mariners or another of the big-money, can’t-resist-overpaying-for-the-guy-everybody-else-wants team, Luhnow should be in line when the rest of the dominoes start to fall.
It could be a big January and there are still some good pitchers to be had. If the Astros are serious about conversations with Tanaka, then they should take these guys out for a test drive as well.
Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo would each provide some punch for the rotation. Ervin Santana as well. Even Paul Malholm is worth a look. Of that group, only Jimenez and Santana would cost the Astros a draft pick, virtually disqualifying them from the Astros’ considerations since the team apparently want to give up its high second pick.
While Tanaka (25 years old) could command a six or seven-year deal, the other free agent starters won’t come at such a high price, at least in length of contract. Garza, Santana and Jimenez could get four-year deals. Players like Malholm and Arroyo could come in at one or two.
So here are a few questions for your post-Christmas (ahem) bargain shopping.
- Do you expect the Astros to add another $10 million-per year player this off season?
- Would you bid on Tanaka? If so, what’s the highest you would go?
- Should the Astros focus on adding a key (read: ace) starter or focus on a player like Jesse Crain or Fernando Rodney as closer?
- Will Tanaka be a flop in the majors? Or will he eventually have one of those Hall of Fame careers a la Ichiro Suzuki?