Masahiro Tanaka updates from Sunday, December 29, 2013:
Bobby V: Tanaka has Rookie of the Year Talent by Mike Puma
... "He pitches like Jose Fernandez," Valentine told The Post on Friday, referring to the Marlins ace and NL Rookie of the Year. "I think [Tanaka] has similar stuff and similar competitiveness. He is battle-proven, and there is nothing you wouldn't like about him. He would be a credit to anybody's staff."
... "His split-fingered fastball is the best in the world," Valentine said.
... "He's all about aggressiveness, competitiveness. He got put on the big stage as a young guy, where he was in the [Japanese] major leagues as a 19-year-old and he played for all those international teams, WBC, and was on staff with all the big boys and always held his own."
... "The mounds are a big adjustment for guys coming over from Japan because the mounds over there are soft," Valentine said. "That is a big adjustment."
... "If I was him, I would pitch in the National League," Valentine said. "I would pitch on the West Coast and I would pitch where the weather isn't going to be a factor."
On what Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, could be looking for, from ESPN's Wallace Matthews:
... At this point, there's no way Garza, Jimenez or Santana are going to sign with anyone before they see how much Tanaka goes for. And since it is widely assumed Tanaka and his agent, Casey Close, are seeking, at minimum, a five-year, $100 million contract, this will serve as a belated Christmas present for the other three, whose agents will base their asking prices on Tanaka's final numbers.
On what Tanaka might cost, from USA Today's Bob Nightengale:
Team officials involved in Tanaka sweepstakes say the Japanese star will cost a minimum of $17 million a year
New York Yankees on Tanaka, from Newsday's Marc Carig:
On the first day that major-league teams were allowed to begin negotiations with the Japanese pitching star, an industry source said Thursday that the Yankees already have been in contact with Casey Close, whom Tanaka recently designated as his agent. Close is Derek Jeter's longtime agent.
Texas Rangers on Tanaka, from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan:
"We're probably comfortable where we are in terms of financial commitments," Rangers co-chairman Bob Simpson said. "Tanaka would be a tough thing. We aggressively went after Yu, who we are fortunate to have. I guess I should never say never, but at the moment, we're more interested in just rounding out our team than marquee players."
Rosenthal: MLB on guard against shenanigans in Tanaka posting process by Ken Rosenthal
... "It is a violation of the agreement for any value other than the posting fee to flow directly or indirectly to the Japanese club," said Rob Manfred, baseball's chief operating officer. "The agreement is brand new and we want to make sure that people follow the agreement."
... OK, the scenario probably is far-fetched. Still, one major league executive says "back-channeling" is indeed the biggest concern under the new agreement, citing another way in which teams could coerce Japanese clubs to post players.
... Of all the possibilities, perhaps the most realistic is the one that already has been broached — the idea of Tanaka somehow repaying Rakuten by making a donation to the team.
MLB, of course, could view the donation as an illegal kickback. Such a plan, one source said, also would be "very inefficient" — Tanaka would be taxed on his major league income in Japan, and Rakuten would be taxed for any revenue he contributed to the club.
Rakuten Eagles President Yozo Tachibana clarified that Tanaka has plans to donate money to the prefecture, not the organization.