We at BlueJaysPlus have learned from multiple major league sources that the Blue Jays are “heavy on Masahiro Tanaka, along with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.”
Tanaka, 25, was posted by his Japanese club the Rakuten Golden Eagles on Christmas day, and is the first player to be subject to the new posting system agreed upon between MLB and NPB this winter. In 2013, Tanaka pitched to the tune of a glorious 1.27 ERA, with a 7.8 K/9 and just a 1.4 BB/9 ratio. The Yankees and Dodgers, the two teams the Blue Jays have the most competition for in their quest to sign Tanaka according to those sources, are both in different positions with regards to their starting pitching. The Yankees rotation is lacking right now, as after C.C Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, they are all question marks(although I guess you can say there are some questions surrounding those two as well). The Dodgers on the other hand, have 6 capable major league starters, but have all the money in the world. When you have all the money in the world, spending it on a pitcher with the potential that Tanaka has is definitely a reasonable thing to do, especially because you can never have enough pitching (as us Blue Jays fans have learned all too well these past couple of seasons).
Two other starting pitchers tied to the Jays by FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal are Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. Rosenthal said the Jays are leading candidates to sign either one of those guys, but we at BlueJaysPlus have learned via a source that the Blue Jays “prefer Santana to Jimenez because the latter’s wonky mechanics are very unconducive to repeatability”, which is a major reason why Jimenez is very hit or miss. When he is able to repeat his mechanics, Jimenez can be one of the best in baseball(as he showed during the second half of the 2013 season), but when he doesn’t, he becomes very wild and cannot control the ball like a frontline starter should.
The 31-year-old Santana was said to be demanding 5 years and $105 million($21M AAV) in contract negotiations at the beginning of the off-season, but BlueJaysPlus has learned from a source that those numbers have dropped to around $85 million at the same term($17M AAV). In this pitching market, those numbers seem a lot more fair than the originals, but I’d still be wary of the Blue Jays giving any pitcher 5 years, and even more so for one like Santana who has been very homer prone in the past.
This source also informed us that many teams(about half of major league baseball actually) are talking with Santana’s camp and have been throughout the winter, but it appears as if only two teams will make formal offers once the dust settles with the Masahiro Tanaka negotiations. The first is the Blue Jays, and the other team is the team that loses out on the bidding for Tanaka between the Yankees and Dodgers. Of course, if the Blue Jays can somehow convince Tanaka to forgo the limelight of L.A. and New York, and get him to sign in Toronto, this would take them out of the Santana sweepstakes.
Finally, some completely not surprising info that a source told BlueJaysPlus is that both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are very good friends with Santana,and they both have told the club they’d love to have him on their team. First of all, where were they when Robbie Cano was a free agent, and secondly, hurray for Dominican clubhouse cults!