We already know the Yankees are interested in Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, but they are going to have plenty of competition.
Phil Rogers of MLB.com was told by sources that Tanaka has become a “top priority” for the Cubs’ front office. The club is expected to have a large contingent in attendance to watch him pitch in the Japan Series, which begins this weekend.
Regarded as the best pitcher in Japan, Tanaka has been on an incredible run this season, going 24-0 with a a 1.27 ERA and 183/32 K/BB ratio over 212 regular season innings. The 24-year-old has remained undefeated during the postseason, including a seven-hit shutout earlier this month.
Tanaka’s team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, are expected to make him available via the posting process once the Japan Series is over. The thought is that the bidding could rival the $51,703,411 fee the Rangers paid to secure exclusive negotiating rights with Yu Darvish two offseasons ago. The two sides eventually agreed to a six-year, $56 million contract.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.
Update (5:20 PM EST): It’s a minor league contract, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If he makes the major league roster, Saltalamacchia will earn $1.25 million with an additional $250,000 available through incentives.
The Blue Jays are close to a deal with free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is reporting.
Saltalamacchia, 31, hit a meager .171/.284/.346 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 292 plate appearances with the Tigers this past season. With Russell Martin getting regular playing time behind the plate, Saltalamacchia will serve as his understudy, pushing A.J. Jimenez and Juan Graterol down on the depth chart.
The veteran catcher isn’t far removed from being a productive backstop. He had an .805 OPS in 70 games with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and also helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 with an .804 OPS in 121 games.