No matter how big or small it may be, the White Sox interest in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka can be attributed to the new posting system.
On Tuesday, Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s Luke Stuckmeyer reported Tanaka would meet with both the Cubs and White Sox next week about the possibility of pitching in Chicago in 2014.
While the Cubs’ interest isn’t a surprise -- they announced plans to make a push for the right-hander in November -- this is the first time the White Sox name has surfaced in potential talks. But last month White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the team could have interest in Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the Rakuten Eagles, if the then-rumored posting system was put into place.
Under the new system, which has since been agreed to, any team that would pay the $20 million posting fee to Tanaka’s former club has the right to negotiate a deal within a 30-day window.
In the past, teams bid without a cap for the right to negotiate, which led the Texas Rangers to offer Yu Darvish’s club a $51 million posting fee in addition to a six-year, $56-million contract.
“Knowing what you have to spend on the posting helps you evaluate how feasible it is to get something done,” Hahn said last month at the winter meetings. “(With the new posting system) you will see it being more similar to domestic free agency with the Japanese players. Like any impactful free agent that would help us, we’d intend to be part of it.”
Whether or not the White Sox intend to take part in the expected bidding war for Tanaka remains to be seen. MLBTraderumors.com predicts Tanaka would earn at least $14 million annually as a host of big-market clubs, including the Cubs and New York Yankees, could get involved.
However, Tanaka, who is 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA with 1,238 strikeouts and only 275 walks in 1,315 innings, definitely would have some appeal for the White Sox.
Not only is he talented, Tanaka, 25, is entering his prime and would give the club a formidable No. 2 pitcher in the rotation behind Chris Sale for years to come.
Much like Cuban free agent Jose Abreu, the first baseman the team signed in November, Tanaka also comes to whatever team signs him without the additional cost of a draft pick, an aspect of the Abreu signing upon which Hahn was particularly high.
Per ESPN.com the window to bid and negotiate on Tanaka closes at 5 p.m. (EST) on Jan. 24.