Masahiro Tanaka AP

Report: Yankees will be “serious players” for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka

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If you haven’t heard of Masahiro Tanaka yet, it’s time to get familiar with him. The bidding for his services is about to get serious.

According to George A. King III of the New York Post, the Yankees are going to be “serious players” for the 24-year-old right-hander this winter as they attempt to fill holes in their starting rotation. The team has done their homework here, as they sent assistant general manager Billy Eppler and scout Don Wakamatsu to watch him extensively this season. It’s safe to say they liked what they saw, as Tanaka went 22-0 with a 1.23 ERA during the regular season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League.

Known for his devastating splitter, Tanaka is widely considered the best pitcher in Japan now that Yu Darvish is in the states and at least one scout thinks that he might actually be better.

“He is better than Darvish because he is a strike thrower,’’ the scout said. “Overall, Darvish’s stuff might be a little bit better, but this guy knows how to pitch. He is like Kuroda, he has a lot of guts. He throws four pitches but when it gets to [stone]-cutting time, it’s fastball and splitter.’’

High praise. Like Darvish, Tanaka would have to go through the posting process in order to sign with an MLB team. The Rangers paid $60 million to secure exclusive negotiating rights with Darvish two offseasons ago and eventually signed him to a six-year, $51.7 million contract. A posting fee for Tanaka wouldn’t count towards a team’s payroll, which is something to keep in mind with the Yankees attempting to stay under $189 million next season.

Of course, the Yankees will have plenty of competition for Tanaka’s services. King hears from one source that the usual suspects like the Red Sox, Rangers, and Dodgers will also be in the mix.

Edinson Volquez’s brother was stabbed to death in the Dominican Republic

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Edinson Volquez #36 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Horrible news for Marlins stater Edinson Volquez: Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today reports that his younger brother has been stabbed to death in the Dominican Republic.

Brandy Volquez was just 25. He was involved in an early-morning fight on Monday with two men at a barbershop in Santo Domingo. One man is in police custody. Volquez, you may recall, lost his father mere hours before starting Game 1 of the 2015 World Series, so he is no stranger to tragedy, unfortunately.

“I will always remember you my brother. May God have you in his kingdom,” Volquez wrote in an Instagram post. “RIP one love.”

Diamondbacks sign Gregor Blanco

Gregor Blanco
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The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed outfielder Gregor Blanco to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Blanco hit a mere .224/.309/.311 in 106 games with the Giants in 2006. It was his worst campaign in his big league career, not counting a 24-game stint with the Braves in 2009. Blanco suffered at least one concussion in 2015 and was on the DL for concussion issues twice that season. There’s no telling if that had anything to do with his subpar year, however.

He’ll fight for a backup job for Arizona, who already has A.J. Pollock, David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas in the outfield.