Sox moves hinge on Tanaka flap


It’s not exactly the Butterfly Effect set in motion by twitching wings in South America, but still Ben Cherington must wait to trade Ryan Dempster, until Japanese pitching phenom, “Better Than Yu” Masahiro Tanaka, decides whether he fly away from  his 2-year contract with the Rakuten Golden Eagles to play the 2014 MLB season.

If Ben can save Dempster’s salary, it would give him budget room–$13.25 million–to make a winning offer to the best SS on the FA market, Stephen Drew.

The owner of the Golden Eagles says he wants Tanaka to honor his contract for 2014, but, Tanaka’s filthy splitter, is embarrassing the other teams in the Nippon Professional Baseball and the other team owners want him gone so badly that they have offered to pay the Golden Eagles to let him go to MLB.

Buster Olney         @Buster_ESPN

Source: Other teams in Japan considering kicking in $ for Rakuten to make up for diminished posting fee on Tanaka, to move toward agreement.

10:06 AM – 13 Dec 2013

If Tanaka opts to remain in Japan for the 2014 MLB season, Dempster’s value rises and Cherington can squeeze pitching-desperate teams for better prospects, while he meets his objective to dump Dempster’s salary.

Baseball America‘s Ben Badler says that Golden Eagles’ President Yozo Tachibana has also issued comments that mean:

"“If Tanaka wants to go to MLB, they would like to let him leave.”"

Tanaka has said that his “dream” is to pitch against the world’s toughest competition in the U.S. and Tachibana wants to grant his wish, if the other 11 team owners will pony-up enough yen

Also, Tanaka has tossed 30 complete games since 2011 and about eight innings per start and another grueling season in 2014 could result in a serious injury that would cost him money and maybe even a shot at pitching in MLB.

Ken Rosenthal         @Ken_Rosenthal

Sources: #DBacks‘ No. 1 target is Tanaka. Continue to explore trades, free agents as they await decision on whether Tanaka will be posted.

5:44 PM – 11 Dec 2013 from Bay Lake, FL, United States

The latest off the Rumor Mill wire resolves nothing:

[December 16 at 8:18am CST]

“The Rakuten Golden Eagles will try to convince Masahiro Tanaka to stay in Japan for one more season, according to a Sponichi Report…a source indicated over the weekend to George A. King III of the New York Post that Tanaka won’t be posted until after the 2014 season.

Of course, the Golden Eagles do not need Tanaka’s consent to retain him for another season. However, denying their ace of his wish to come to the United States may not look good to the public and could damage the club’s relationship with Tanaka and other players down the line. Last Sunday, Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana told reporters that he would likely post Tanaka is he wished to come to MLB.

Rumors claim that the Dodgers and Yankees might both willing to pay the $20 posting fee to Rakuten Golden Eagles for the right to attempt to sign Tanaka.

Just how good is Tanaka?

He’s so good he has already made it into the Guinness World Records Book.

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Masahiro Tanaka received a certificate of recognition Saturday by Guinness World Records for his record-breaking season.

The 25-year-old Tanaka went 24-0 this season and, coupled with his 28-game winning streak that began on Aug. 26, 2012, plus two wins in the postseason, had a 30-game winning streak.

“I’ve never thought about a Guinness record. I’ve watched on TV and thought, ‘So this is what a Guinness record is.’ It is a great honor to be recognized and have my name recorded in history,” said Tanaka, who received the certificate at a fan appreciation event the same day at Kleenex Stadium in Sendai.

While Dempster is not in the same conversation that GMs are having about Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, the top three starters on the free-agent market, he would be a million or two cheaper and will not get a multi-year deal, since his contract ends with the 2014 season.

While GM Ben taps his fingers on his hotel room desk, waiting for the Japanese Super Hero Hurler to make up his mind, he could watch a movie, say “Lost in Translation,” or he can pass the time with these Tanaka Fun Facts:

1. His wife, Mai Satoda, is a member of the Japanese Pop music group Country Musume.

2. On Sept. 13, Tanaka set a Nippon Professional Baseball record with his 21st consecutive win of the season, his 25th including the 2012 season. The major-league record for consecutive wins is 24, set by Carl Hubbell in 1937.

3. Tanaka’s first position was catcher. He didn’t exclusively pitch until high school, which begins with 10th grade in Japan.

4. As a high school senior, Tanaka threw 742 pitches over six appearances, breaking the national record of 643 pitches thrown by Daisuke Matsuzaka eight years earlier.

5. Tanaka stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 205 pounds, the same size listed for Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier.

6. Because he is under contract with the Rakuten Golden Eagles through 2015, Tanaka will have to come to Major League Baseball through the Posting System.

7. Tanaka throws a two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, split-fingered fastball, slider and changeup.

8. With Rakuten, Tanaka wore number 18 — countryman Hiroki Kuroda’s number with the Dodgers.

9. In Game 6 of the Japan Series, Tanaka lost his first game of the season while throwing 160 pitches in a complete-game effort. Rakuten won the series the next day.

10. In an August 2010 game, Tanaka tore his right chest muscle throwing a pitch and missed the next three weeks.