The New York Yankees missed the postseason last year for the second time in only 15 years. Before the season finished and even began, there was talk around the league of the Yankees’ intention to save money and get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold.
Well, that talk has stopped as the Yankees missed the postseason and they have realized that they can’t afford to become cheap as they did last season when they went cheap and failed to re-sign key players. So this offseason they have gone on a shopping spree, even to some skeptical additions of pieces they truly didn’t need.
Their biggest hole still has yet to be addressed and that is their starting pitching. Their pitching was mediocre last season as their ace, CC Sabathia, was anything but, Hiroki Kuroda emerged as their best pitcher but struggled mightily at the end of the season which raised concerns over his age, Phil Hughes was just a mess, Ivan Nova gave mere glimpses of what an efficient pitcher he can become, and Andy Pettitte was unable to stay healthy and has now gone on to retire a second time.
The big prize out there, if he even is made available, is Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. The 25-year-old went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles this past season, leading the Eagles to a Japanese Series title.
He projects to be as good, if not, better than Yu Darvish if he makes his way stateside. That may not come anytime soon and the Yankees can’t afford to keep waiting for a decision to be made as the MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball League draw a major blow to the Yankees’, and many other teams’ plans with their agreed-upon new posting system.
Gone will be the days that teams were shelling out $50 million-plus posting fees on Japanese imports. The new system makes it that the maximum posting fee from any team can’t exceed $20 million, which benefits the player more as more teams will be able to post bids and the player can go ahead and negotiate a new contract with all teams that have posted the bid.
As the new system benefits the player, it makes it less lucrative for their Japanese team and gives them less incentive to post a star player. When the team knows the most they can get $20 million, then why post a star player now when they can still help them win games, instead just wait right before the player becomes a free agent and then post him, which is what Rakuten is said to be doing with Tanaka now.
Dissatisfied with the new system, the Golden Eagles are said to have made a decision of holding on to Tanaka for another year, maybe another two years, so they can try to make their way back to the title game.
This is a huge blow to the Yankees as they were seen as the team who would’ve been most aggressive in the Tanaka sweepstakes as they desperately need pitching. The Yankees are now looking to filled their remaining holes in the rotation within, with David Phelps, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno fighting for the remaining spots.
It very may will be another down season for the Yankees’ pitching if they are unwilling to go out and lock up some available arms in the market like Matt Garza, Johan Santana, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, but so far the Yankees seem very unwillingly to pursue them.
The Tanaka situation may change things but look for Kuroda and Sabathia, if he can return to form, to carry the rotation once again.
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