Yes sir, the Astros should be all in on Tanaka!

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?

25 comments on “Yes sir, the Astros should be all in on Tanaka!

  1. hi chip,

    i read our 60 million bid was second place. i usually am against very large long term contracts, but thats to players already in their 30’s. i just feel like the back end of those contracts are very dicey. ie choo will be 39 at the end of his 7 yr contract with the rangers. i am fine with trying to get tanaka, he is 25 and would be 32 at the end of a 7 year deal. i doubt they will pay a 20 million posting fee along with the projected 150 contract though.

    yes i think another player in the 10 million range will be signed (Garza?)
    yes i would bid on tanaka but i wouldnt give away the farm – he seems great, but no mlb experience.
    i would like them to sign crain
    only time will tell how he will do

    ps. i only can type with 2 fingers and am very slow, therefore i leave out capitalization and most punctuation. i know this grates on your english teacher past, i apologize for that.

    happy new year to you and all at this blog.


  2. Add another $10 million-per year player? Possibly – if they believe it is someone worthwhile who won’t be blocking someone.
    Would you bid on Tanaka? If so, what’s the highest you would go? I totally agree with RJ – I would rather chase someone his age and I think we’ve seen enough of the Japanese pitchers come over to know that with his stats he can translate to the mlb game. I would top out at about $18 mill for 7 yrs.
    Should the Astros focus on adding a key (read: ace) starter or focus on a player like Jesse Crain or Fernando Rodney as closer? I would rather have Tanaka – but not likely to win that one – could live with a Crain in the bullpen.
    Will Tanaka be a flop in the majors? Or will he eventually have one of those Hall of Fame careers a la Ichiro Suzuki? I don’t think he will flop – not sure how to tell if he will be a superstar or not.


  3. Yes. they should get into the bidding. Our 2014 Astros are going to miss the playoffs. If you get arms into the rotation, free agents (hitters that is) will want to come here. Tanaka likely will want to play for a contender immediately. The worst thing Luhnow could do is not put in a bid. If nothing else, any offers we make should drive up his price and (hopefully) limit the benefit to the team that signs him as it would have greater impact on their payroll down the line.


  4. Well, at this point, I would go with whatever Luhnow thinks. If the guy is worth megabucks, go after him. Scouts, video, SABR. That’s how we do it.
    One thing about it, if we signed him, it would force us to get a TV deal done!


  5. $18mil for 7 years (plus the $20mil payola, right)?

    Is this realistic?

    Is hoping for such from a cash-strapped organization even worth hoping for? I am not even going to say it… I think, deep down, we all know what’s going to happen.


    • Bo – That is what I would bid – not what I think the Astros will bid.
      I agree that it is not going to happen for the Astros. But I think they will do a bit more.


  6. The Yankees are gonna make sure they get this guy. Most (if not ALL) the other teams will pony up the money to talk to the guy (his agent)….
    and they would be fools not to. At the end of the day, he will be in pin-stripes……that’s just a fact. I’d like to have Jimenez rather than Garza
    and Crain over Rodney to close. Will Tanaka fail in the U.S……you never know, but that’s a chance I’d be willing to take if I owned a team with unlimited funds like the Yanks!!


    • i’m afraid you are right becky. i wonder if something like a salary cap similar to what the nfl uses wouldnt be a good idea. the players association would fight that tooth and nail though.


      • This is one of the only areas I agree with Scott Bora$. International players are able to sign for obscene amounts of money, but players entering from the draft are constrained by the bonus rules. I suppose it’s “fair” that the Astros can bid, just like the Yankees, but is there a realistic chance they could sign him?


      • i mean a per team salary cap like the nfl, say 120 million tops. that keeps teams like the yankees from buying everybody


  7. How much do you have to pay his “personal” interpreter?? The guy
    has pitched a LOT of innings, and his arm might be ready to fall off.
    Just kidding, but I think you know what I’m talking about. The guys coming from Japan have pitched a ton of innings…….but still worth the effort,


  8. Should we at least talk with Tanaka’s people? Sure. But 7 years and $150 million is a lot of money for a guy who basically has AAA experience.
    I think another $10 million will be spent. Whether it’s one player or two, I have no idea. Maybe Crain would be worth spending the bulk of that. Maybe we make a trade for a player who adds some payroll as well. I still think Corporan is a chip that will be played at some point before the season starts.
    Oh, and as for Tanaka’s future, I’d spend that money if I knew he was the mound equivalent of Suzuki. But there’s no guarantee, and I’m not ready to spend that on him.


    • I’ve never heard of a guy going 24-0 in AAA. Has anybody? If we had a guy in AA or AA doing that he would be up in a flash. I listen and read a lot of baseball and from what I’ve heard, this guy is going to be good. I know they only show his highlight performances, but at 24-0 which performance is not a highlight? The only way to acquire a guy like this is to bid like you want him, not like you want to make a showing.


      • Look, I’m not saying he isn’t great, but it is 24-0 against AAA talent, because that’s the talent level of Japanese baseball. That said, I’m sure that translates well to MLB. Not 24-0 well, but pretty well.


  9. Brian_T…… read my mind! The Braves *need* another catcher
    and Corporan fill that void rather nice. Spend the money to get Crain….
    I’m getting tired of “trying” to make a closer outta a guy who has never
    done it……..Veras. The Braves are STOCKED with MLB ready pitchers!


      • Now Brian T – thou shalt have no false gods….. oh you meant you were good with that. (I would never have a mis-type like that – lol)
        Yeah – that is the kind of deal I would like to see.


  10. I am going back to my old optimistic self. I I had a shower recently so all the bad stuff is washed away.
    1. Dominguez improves his fielding and hits for a higher avg, but just a few more walks.
    2. Carter hits for a higher avg by cutting his strikeouts to 30%.
    3. The 1B platoon is better than last year’s 1B.


  11. 4. Porter has learned a few things
    5. Brett Strom
    6. Fowler
    7. Better Bullpen
    8.Better Peacock, Ok, thats enough. Im exhausted from niceness


  12. Pro – we don’t need a 1st base platoon, we need a 1st baseman. If there is a platoon one of them needs to be a viable defensive asset that can play one or two other positions. That is not the case. Between Wallace, Carter, and Guzman 2 stay, 1 goes. Assuming Carter stays the other two fight it out.

    As far as Tanaka- you go all in. I am not convinced the Yankees will go all out for the guy given their self imposed mandate to get below 188 million next year. We’ll see. I don’t think he ends up here – but I would show my fan base I am serious, and if I do get him he solves my missing ace problem for the next 10 years, and his opening day start is a 100% ESPN opener.


    • Steven, I agree on Tanaka. If you are the Astros, you offer him more than any other team. If he doesn’t want to play here he will use our offer as leverage to strap another team. If he accepts it, we have a good pitcher and we pay him a ton, while we have it to pay.


  13. We’ll see how interested Jim Crane is about Tanaka………..if we see him board a plane to Japan! Right now I’m not thinking that’s on his to do list for New Years Eve……but ya never know!!


  14. I think we can make do with the pitching we have now. I would spend the rest of the money on our dreadfull offense, namely IB. I think we can all agree Wallace isn’t the answer and if Singleton isn’t ready, spend the money there.

    Glad I found your new site, Chip.


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