We have seen some conflicting reports in recent days about whether the Rakuten Golden Eagles will post much-hyped right-hander Masahiro Tanaka this winter, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports brings word on why there could finally be some clarity on the situation this week:
The will-he-or-won’t-he question may find resolution in the next couple of days. Sources told Yahoo Sports that Yozo Tachibana, president of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, plans to arrive at the winter meetings here on Tuesday. His appearance may lend clarity to Rakuten’s plan of whether to accept a $20 million posting fee for the right-hander’s transfer to an MLB team this offseason or reject it and rob the pitching market of its jewel.
There was no limit on what MLB teams could bid under the old posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball, but the new system will reportedly cap bids at $20 million. Rakuten obviously isn’t happy about that change, as they stood to make considerably more under the old system, so word is that they could keep Tanaka in Japan. Passan brings up the possibility of Tanaka making an under-the-table teal with Rakuten in order to come to get their blessing to come to MLB, but that’s just speculation for now.
If Rakuten ultimately posts Tanaka, all teams who bid the $20 million max will be able to negotiate for his services. Passan polled executives today and found that they anticipate him potentially landing a six-year deal in the range of $100 million.
Once there’s some resolution on Tanaka’s future, we should finally see some movement with top-tier free agent starting pitchers like Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.