Masahiro Tanaka: Seattle Mariners look like favorites for Japanese hurler

With the sweepstakes to sign Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka underway, it appears a surprise front-runner has emerged out of nowhere. Multiple reports suggest the Seattle Mariners appear to be the favorites for the 25-year-old pitcher and could run away with the competition.

Masahiro TanakaBen Badler of Baseball America is always clued in to the international signing market and he lists the Mariners as his favorite as well. Seattle has money to spend after inking a new regional television contract that will pay the team $2 billion over the next 17 years, and the franchise is pushing hard to improve the product on the field.

Seattle has been trying to trade for Tampa Bay Rays lefty David Price, but acquiring Tanaka would likely put a stopper in that talk. After signing second baseman Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract earlier this offseason, the team has $47 million committed to Cano and Felix Hernandez next season, and not much money invested elsewhere.

The Mariners will owe $6.5 million to Hisashi Iwakuma, $6 million to Corey Hart and after arbitration hearings likely won’t owe anyone else more than $3 million. There is tons of room for Seattle to add a guy like Tanaka.

A pitching rotation with Hernandez, Tanaka, Iwakuma (Tanaka’s former teammate in Japan) and possibly 21-year-old prospect Taijuan Walker could change the makeup of the American League West. Throw in either James Paxton or Erasmo Ramirez in the final spot and that lineup of starting pitchers looks downright scary.

This is all speculation, since there is no guarantee the Mariners will sign Tanaka. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are firmly in the mix, and the Chicago Cubs are lurking. The Detroit Tigers also can’t be counted out.

But the situation in Seattle could be an appealing one for Tanaka. He wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of New York, Los Angeles or Chicago and could be a part of an absolutely killer rotation in Seattle. The Mariners have money to toss around, so don’t be surprised if they aren’t done adding offensive talent to the mix as well.

They have added both Logan Morrison and Hart to the outfield, and appear set at second third and shortstop with Cano, Kyle Seager and Brad Miller. Meanwhile, former first-round draft pick Mike Zunino will fit in at catcher. Adding a guy like Nelson Cruz (a free agent) or trading for someone like Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay or Brett Gardner could fill things out in the outfield.

In one offseason things have started to look up in Seattle and adding Tanaka would only solidify that.

About Ryan Phillips


  1. john wright says:

    Are you kidding me? You want me to believe Tanaka wants Seattle over the Yankees or Dodgers because of less stress? Tanaka wants money first of course but also wants to play for a team with history, a great following, a team to make his mark in American baseball.
    If George Steinbrenner was still with us Tanaka would be a certain Yankee. This is going to prove or unprove the younger Steinbrenners commitment to a championship team no matter the cost. If they don’t sign Tanaka the New York fans would never believe them again about their winning commitment. They must sign the best pitcher available and that’s Tanaka.

    • Mariners are going to take Tanaka just like they took Cono. :)

    • Don’t forget also / Japan is almost a farm team to Seattle no other team in MLB has as close relations to Japan than Seattle / Mariners games are shown in Japan / plus the history of Japanese players to go to Seattle / Seattle has the inside track and if the Mariners are willing to spend the money, Tanaka will choose Seattle 1st

  2. I believe it, the one thing the Mariners do extremely well is know how to treat Japanese players well and in this case, Tanaka would get paid well, and also get to work with Iwakuma again.

  3. seattle is very close to japan in a lot of ways.
    There are very strong cultural ties between seattle and japan that go back a century.
    The UW has a strong Japanese student population.
    Its the closest city by far to japan geographically.
    Seattle has been through this with quite a few Japanese players besides Ichiro.
    They have had as many as 3 Japanese players on the team at the same time.
    They definitely have the money to spend, so I don’t see that as being an issue.
    thanks to the mentioned mariner games picked up in japan, when you go to a mariners game there is always a lot of Japanese tourist.
    He would fine some of the best Japanese food in the states in seattle.
    List of reason for him to sign there goes on.
    And if it wasn’t for 23 blown saves last year seattle would have won close to 90 games then.
    Hated to see the starters pulled last year.
    Still need bullpen help. And cruz in the corner outfield spot would make difference.
    But with tanaka seattle would have the best 1-3 and 1-5 in baseball.

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