While most factors suggest the White Sox won’t be a player for Masahiro Tanaka, one rival executive wouldn’t rule them out.
Last week, the White Sox became the only team to publicly announce they have met with Tanaka and his representatives in Los Angeles.
General manager Rick Hahn said the meeting was “exploratory in nature,” a meet and greet in which no contract demands were discussed. Instead, the White Sox pitched the Japanese free-agent pitcher on their future plans and how he would fit into them.
There’s no doubt Tanaka is about to spark a bidding war among a number of major league teams. Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.67 ERA in Japan last season, could earn between $100-150 million over five to seven years in addition to the $20 million posting fee paid to his former team.
Those figures seem extraordinarily high when you consider the White Sox already paid a record $68 million to Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu earlier this year.
Abreu is the third international free agent the club has given a major league contract to since 2008. The White Sox also made a strong push for Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.
Given those previous forays, and the fact that Tanaka, 25, hasn’t entered his physical prime and won’t cost any additional draft picks, the White Sox must be considered.
“They have always been pretty strong on the international market,” the source said. “They’re players. They’re usually in the mix.”