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[1/25/2014] Masahiro Tanaka to wear the number nineteen with the New York Yankees

by on Jan.25, 2014 @ 12:37 pm, under MLB
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The latest on Masahiro Tanaka, from Saturday, January 25, 2014.

  • The Yankees announced that Tanaka was assigned the number nineteen. [MLB.com 1/24/2014] ... Tanaka's former manager and mentor, Katsuya Nomura, wore the number nineteen during parts of his career and when he managed the Rakuten Eagles.  Nomura also thought double-digit numbers that added up to ten were good luck (1+9 = 10). [Sponichi 1/24/2014]
  • Tanaka's "signature" from when he was a fifth year elementary school student was found in Koyaike Park in his home town of Itami, Hyogo.  The signature was found on the back of a two tags used during a PTA event in 1999.  The tags are about twelve centimeters long and twenty-three centimeters wide.  One tag was on a dogwood tree, the other on an ash.  On the back of each, written using a white pen, Koyanosato Shogakko Tanaka Masahiro.  The tags have been removed from the trees out of concern they might disappear.  One tag will be put on display at the Itami City Museum of Insects beginning on the 27th and the other at the Itami Public Library beginning on the 28th. [Nikkan Sports 1/25/2014]
  • According to a report by ZakZak, Rakuten Eagles' Owner Hiroshi Mikitani may have been doing his best to keep Tanaka in Sendai until the very last minute.  There are also rumors that he may have sought help from Yomiuri Chairman Tsuneo Watanabe -- to start a campaign to shift public opinion by using the Yomiuri media group. [ZakZak 1/25/2014]
  • Tanaka's former Rakuten teammates Manabu Mima, Shinichiro Koyama, and Ryohei Isaka wore Yankee caps during workouts at Kobo Stadium on Friday.  Mima purchased the caps (five of them at about 5,000 yen a pop) the day before. ...  The Eagles have reportedly given up on holding a farewell ceremony for Tanaka because of scheduling problems. [Sponichi 1/25/2014]
  • After taxes, Tanaka's contract will probably be worth around sixty-eight million US dollars.  He could have saved about twelve million if he signed with Arizona or Chicago. [Americans for Tax Reform 1/23/2014 via Sponichi 1/25/2014]
  • Tanaka might not leave for the United States until some time around February 10.  He is expected to continue his workouts at Kobo Stadium until then.  He will not have anyone to work out with in February since Rakuten players will be in Okinawa for spring camp.  Yoshiki Sato could step in and help. [Daily Sports 1/25/2014]
  • Tanaka tweeted that he did not set up @TanakaEnglish. [Daily Sports 1/25/2014]
  • UPDATE @ 5:04pm - Tanaka worked out at Kobo Stadium today.  With regards to his uniform number, he told reports he had no special feelings for the number eighteen and had no particular reason for picking the number nineteen. [Daily Sports 1/25/2014]
  • UPDATE @ 6:26pm - ZakZak's Yoshifumi Ejiri notes that fans in Japan might not have a chance to see Tanaka pitch in the next WBC because of his decision to sign with the Yankees. [ZakZak 1/25/2014]

[1/23/2014] Masahiro Tanaka News and Notes (UPDATED 6:56pm, includes press conference quotes)

by on Jan.23, 2014 @ 2:29 pm, under MLB
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Masahiro Tanaka updates from Thursday, January 23, 2014.

  • Tanaka arrived at Kobo Stadium in a suit at 9:02am.  Reporters congratulated him.  He replied, "Good morning," then disappeared into the facilities for workouts. [Nikkan Sports 1/23/2014]
  • Tanaka is scheduled to hold a press conference at Kobo Stadium at 3:00pm (Japan time). [Sponichi 1/23/2014]
  • Tanaka once visited the old Yankee Stadium when he was in high school (August 2006).  He was there with a team of high school players which also included Nippon Ham's Yuki Saito.  The game he was supposed to watch was rained out, but he still had a chance to meet Hideki Matsui. [Sanspo 1/23/2014]
  • Tanaka's glove manufacturer could be down to Mizuno and Asics.  He also started using Asics cleats during workouts at Kobo Stadium on the 18th.  He may have been basing some design decisions based on feedback he received from Yu Darvish. [Tokyo Sports 1/23/2014]
  • Hiroki Kuroda comment:  "I would like to work with him to win another World Series Championship.  I also hope his presence can push me to become a better pitcher." [Nikkan Sports 1/23/2014]
  • Norichika Aoki comment:  "Going to the Yankees will probably mean a lot of pressure, but I think he will be able to handle it.  I think I will have opportunities to face him.  This gives me another thing to look forward to." [Nikkan Sports 1/23/2014]
  • UPDATE @ 2:56pm - Senichi Hoshino comment: "I got a phone call from him last night.  He said he decided on the Yankees.  I told him to make sure he prepared himself properly. ... Like I always say, if a young person says they want to take on the challenge, I want to let them do it.  I am a little said, but this is a happy occasion and I want him to flap his wings [and fly].  I think he will live up to Japan's expectations if he is in good condition.  Congratulations." [Daily Sports 1/23/2014]
  • UPDATE @ 3:31pm -
    • J Sports is planning to televise all of Tanaka's starts during the upcoming regular season.  This will also be broadcasting exhibition games. [official announcement]
    • Tanaka wore a navy blue striped suit with a light blue shirt and greyish necktie to the press conference. [Sports Hochi 1/23/2014]
    • Fifteen TV camera and over 100 members of the media covered the press conference. [Nikkan Sports 1/23/2014]
  • UPDATE 1/24 @ 3:22am - After the press conference and before leaving, Tanaka turned to the field and bowed toward the mound. [Sponichi 1/23/2014]

(continue reading...)

[1/20/2014] Masahiro Tanaka News and Notes

by on Jan.20, 2014 @ 5:41 pm, under MLB
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The latest on Masahiro Tanaka from Monday, January 20, 2014:

  • Tanaka attended Takeshi Yamasaki's retirement party on Sunday.  He did not provide any updates about his posting. ... The Yankees, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and White Sox have reportedly submitted formal offers.  The offers may have been six-year deals over 120 million US dollars. ... He was testing new cleats made for the harder mounds in the United States during his bullpen session at the indoor training facilities at Kobo Stadium on the 18th.  The new cleats are black with white and gold stripes.  They are from ASICS. ... Tanaka has spent time working on his lower body this off-season in preparation for the harder mounds in the United States.  [Sanspo 1/20/2014]
  • Tanaka tossed about forty pitches, including breaking balls, in the bullpen today.  He did not speak to reporters after his workouts.  2nd round draft pick Yasuhito  Uchida caught the session. [Sanspo 1/20/2014] ... According to Nikkan Sports, he threw thirty-nine pitches in the bullpen. [Nikkan Sports 1/20/2014]
  • Munenori Kawasaki would like to see Tanaka perform some Momoiro Clover Z dance steps.  Not necessarily for the benefit of the fans, but for Tanaka himself.  Perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek. [Sponichi 1/20/2014]

And some headlines from the United States...

CSN Chicago's Tony Andracki provides some quotes about Tanaka from Saturday's Cubs Convention:

... Pro scouting director Joe Bohringer has been familiar with Tanaka since he saw the young right-hander in Japan while working with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008.

Bohringer and the Cubs have seen Tanaka every year since, including the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where he competed against some of Major League Baseball's best players.

"Any time we had a chance to see him get in an arena like that,” Bohringer said, “where we knew he was facing major league caliber players and watching his success or failure, that gives us a better idea of how he would actually be if we translate it to the major leagues.

Tanaka is still a prospect. But because he's played at such a higher level of competition, it makes us feel a little more comfortable with our overall evaluation for how it's going to translate."

Source: CSN Chicago 1/18/2014

CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney has a bit more:

"I think any team in baseball would love a 25-year-old starting pitcher," said Jason McLeod, the vice president of scouting and player development. "We've scouted him extensively over the years (through) our pro scouting staff and a lot of video work that we've done on him. So the evaluation process is complete.

"He's obviously talented. We understand — I think everyone understands — that’s not the same level of competition (in) Japan. But he's a talented pitcher, and I'm sure the team that gets him is going to be happy."

Source: CSN Chicago 1/19/2014

Tanaka wants to play in a city that has a Japanese population and the Cubs will do what they can to sign him.  From CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine:

... Tanaka is known to want a city to play in where the Japanese population and its culture is vibrant and readily accessible for him and his wife. The dollars are of course a deciding factor in the 25-year-old pitcher’s final decision. Bidding teams learned early in the process that the price of poker would begin at six years and $100 million. Many have speculated that Tanaka could receive as much as $150 million from the winning bidder. Those figures however have been driven by media speculation more so than actual knowledge of the contract talks.

... A source for this story said the Cubs will use every ethical strategy they can to get Tanaka to say yes to their offer. Indications are club has told the pitcher he would be their ace and grow with the top rated minor league talent that is starting to make its way through the system. A source from the Japanese side of this said Tanaka has the type of personality that would accept the challenge of being the lead man on building a young championship team.

Source: CBS Chicago 1/19/2014 via Nikkan Sports 1/19/2014

The Cubs may have offered Tanaka a seven-year deal.  From Chicago Now's Tom Loxas:

... I was told tonight the industry buzz places the Cubs offer in the neighborhood of $160 million for 7 years.

That offer does not include the $20 million posting fee, I'm told.

Source: Chicago Now 1/19/2014 via Nikkan Sports 1/19/2014

The Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer thinks the Cubs are "long shots."

... Despite reports that continue to call the Cubs front-runners for Masahiro Tanaka, signing the 25-year-old right-hander is a long shot for the team, which remains skeptical of its chances even with an aggressive effort.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times 1/19/2014 via Nikkan Sports 1/19/2014

[1/17/2014] Masahiro Tanaka: still nothing new to report

by on Jan.17, 2014 @ 11:49 pm, under NPB
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Masahiro Tanaka's assistant Yoshiki Sato spoke to reporters today and said, "There is still about a week left to go so I think things are not yet over.  The [travel] schedule has not been set."  When asked if he expected negotiations to drag out until the last minute, he replied, "That is not something we are trying to do.  The agent is handling everything and hopefully things work outs according to what [Tanaka] wants.  Nothing has been decided."

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/17/2014

[1/12/2014] Masahiro Tanaka News and Notes

by on Jan.12, 2014 @ 2:39 pm, under NPB
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Masahiro Tanaka updates from Sunday, January 12, 2014:

  • Tanaka returned to Japan on Saturday after spending about fifty hours in Los Angeles -- four days, two nights.
  • He got a physical and then met with at least six MLB teams.
  • Over thirty reporters were at the airport in Los Angeles (he avoided the media by using a separate check-in counter) and Narita (he did not respond to questions by the media).
  • The trip to the United States was most likely about getting the physical out of the way to address any concerns teams might have about his health.
  • Teams most likely did not present any specific contractual terms during their meetings with him.  Discussions likely focused on things like team environment and facilities.
  • He will resume him training in the Kanto region until the 17th.

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/12/2014, Sponichi 1/12/2014

[UPDATE @ 3:19pm]

Sports Hochi believes it might come down to three teams: New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Source: Sports Hochi 1/12/2014

===

The Dodgers will reportedly go "all-out in their efforts to sign Tanaka, saying they and certainly won't be out-bid" according to a tweet by USA Today's Bob Nightengale on January 11.

[1/11/2014] Masahiro Tanaka News and Notes

by on Jan.11, 2014 @ 11:51 am, under NPB
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Masahiro Tanaka updates from Saturday, January 11, 2014:

According to Nikkan Sports:

  • The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have likely met with Tanaka in the Beverly Hills area.
  • Chicago White Sox Executive Vice President Ken Williams, General Manager Rick Hahn, and Manager Robin Ventura met Tanaka.
  • Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and Owner Ken Kendrick met Tanaka.  They may have offered him the number eighteen.
  • Chicago Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts, President Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, and Manager Rick Renteria met Tanaka.  They may have shown him a video of their various facilities.

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/11/2014

According to Sponichi:

  • Tanaka met with six to eight teams on the 9th (US time) for about thirty to forty minutes each.
  • Chicago White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf was also in attendance.
  • Tanaka could meet teams like the Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, and Toronto Blue Jays on the 10th (US time)/11th (Japan time).

Source: Sponichi 1/11/2014

[UPDATE @ 2:58pm]

According to a tweet by the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea, Tanaka's top three cities are Los Angeles, New York, and Boston.

Source: Daily Sports 1/11/2014

[UPDATE @ 6:29pm]

Tanaka flew into Narita Airport out of Los Angeles today.  He did not speak to the media.

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/11/2014

[1/10/2014] Masahiro Tanaka News and Notes

by on Jan.10, 2014 @ 2:01 pm, under NPB
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The latest on Masahiro Tanaka from Friday, January 10, 2014:

  • CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports Tanaka "will see as many as a dozen or so teams by Friday in the Los Angeles area" and that the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, and Arizona Diamondbacks "are believed to be among teams to have already met or at least have meetings planned."  The Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, and Texas Rangers have also been mentioned as teams with interest.  Source: CBS Sports 1/9/2014
  • The Philadelphia Phillies could be a sleeper team, according to Bleacher Report's Joe Giglio.  "Yet, the link between Tanaka and Philadelphia runs deeper than just wins and losses for 2014. The Phillies are a true sleeper in this sweepstakes due to three factors: finances, Amaro's history and the ability to keep their options open over the next few years."  Source: bleacher report 1/8/2014 via Nikkan Sports 1/10/2014
  • Nikkan Sports notes that Tanaka visited a hospital in Los Angeles for a medical exam.  Source: Nikkan Sports 1/10/2014
  • Sponichi notes that Tanaka will probably be in the United States for less than a week and that the main purpose for his trip might be the medical exam.  Source: Sponichi 1/10/2014

[UPDATE @ 4:09pm]

Tanaka has reportedly met with the Chicago White Sox.  From MLB.com's Scott Merkin:

... the team has confirmed, through a statement, its meeting with Tanaka and his representatives in the Los Angeles area on Thursday. Executive vice president Ken Williams, general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura were present at the meeting.

"The meeting was exploratory in nature," Hahn said in the statement. "It was an opportunity for us to sit down with Masahiro and discuss how he potentially fits our vision for the Chicago White Sox for the next several seasons."

This statement continued, "Out of respect for Mr. Tanaka's decision-making process, the White Sox will have no further comment on the status of any additional conversations until he makes his final decision public."

Source: MLB.com 1/9/2014

[UPDATE @ 10:44pm]

From ESPN's Mark Saxon:

... Wednesday Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he has had a couple of conversations with Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, but described the talks as in the "feeling-out," stage. Thursday Dodgers president Stan Kasten indicated the Dodgers aren't expecting to land Tanaka.

"You can be assured we'll investigate everything and, if there's a way that it made sense, I'm sure we would consider it," Kasten told Mark Willard and Ben Lyons on ESPNLA 710 Thursday. "But I wouldn't predict it, I wouldn't hang our hat on it, because I think the team we have right now in place is ready to go to spring training, ready to start the season and ready to compete and win. That's what we're all here for."

Source: ESPN 1/9/2014

[1/9/2014] Masahiro Tanaka heads to the United States for negotiations

by on Jan.09, 2014 @ 1:09 pm, under NPB
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Masahiro Tanaka updates from Thursday, January 9, 2014:

  • Daily Sports reports that former Rakuten Eagles Public Relations Manager Yoshiki Sato left for the United States.  People close to the situation to reporters that Sato will be in the United States for four to five days and there there is a chance Tanaka will meet him there.
  • A number of reports this morning reported that Tanaka also left for the United States.
  • Tanaka could first meet with agent Casey Close for a debriefing of current offers on the table.  The two sides will then most likely narrow down choices before beginning face-to-face meetings.
  • Based on US media activity, the Japanese media believes Tanaka will likely meet with reps from the Chicago Cubs and White Sox.  Other teams could follow.
  • Sports Hochi feels a decision could be made as early as the 17th.

Source: Daily Sports 1/9/2014, Jiji Press 1/9/2014, Chunichi Sports 1/9/2014, Sports Hochi 1/9/2014, Sanspo 1/9/2014, Sponichi 1/9/2014

[1/6/2014] Masahiro Tanaka News and Notes

by on Jan.06, 2014 @ 11:35 pm, under NPB
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The MLB submitted a request to the NPB asking the Rakuten Eagles to clarify statements released by them that hinted at the possibility of Masahiro Tanaka making donations to the organization after his departure via the posting system.  The Eagles reportedly filed their response with the NPB office today.  Rakuten President Yozo Tachibana spoke to reporters and explained that they were going to comply with the rules of the new agreement.

"The only thing we can say is that we will follow the rules written in the agreement," Tachibana said.

Source: Nikkan Sports 1/6/2014, Sponichi 1/6/2014

===

The Eagles are thinking about throwing a farewell ceremony for Masahiro Tanaka once his departure becomes official (similar to what the Nippon Ham Fighters did for Yu Darvish when he left for the Majors).

Source: Daily Sports 1/6/2013Sponichi 1/6/2014Nikkan Sports 1/6/2014Nikkan Sports 1/6/2014

[12/30/2013] Masahiro Tanaka, Norichika Aoki

by on Dec.31, 2013 @ 12:08 am, under MLB
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Updates on Masahiro Tanaka from Monday, December 30, 2013:

According to reports by Sponichi and Sanspo, Major League Baseball sent the Rakuten Eagles a letter asking for clarification and written assurances that they will not be involved in any under-the-table financial transactions connected to Tanaka's posting.

Source: Sponichi 12/30/2013, Sanspo 12/30/2013

===

Teams that might be interested:

Minnesota Twins, according to a tweet by ESPN's Darren Wolfson. [Tweet 12/29/2013 via Nikkan Sports 12/30/2013]

The Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly reached out to Casey Close. [Arizona Sports 12/27/2013 via Sponichi 12/30/2013]

===

In other MLB-related news...

A bat Norichika Aoki used to collect about thirty hits this season was went for 100,000 yen during a charity auction in Miyazaki on Sunday.

Source: Nikkan Sports 12/30/2013