Competition to land Tanaka arrives to U.S. soil
THE COMPETITION to land prized free-agent Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has come to this side of the Pacific Ocean.
Big-league clubs have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 to sign the star 25-year-old righthander, who has arrived in the United States to begin negotiations with what some speculate are up to one-third of baseball's major league teams.
Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year for the Japan Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles, who made him available under the new posting system. He is being represented by agent Casey Close and plans to have a physical in the U.S. that can be reviewed by major league teams.
Under the new posting system, the fee payable to the Japanese club is capped at $20 million and the player can negotiate with all big-league teams willing to pay the posting amount.
Tanaka himself could command well above $100 million in salary.
The Cubs and White Sox are among several teams pursuing Tanaka, who has been meeting with teams this week in Los Angeles.
"It was an opportunity to discuss how he potentially fits our vision for the next several seasons," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement.
Hahn declined to comment further "out of respect for Mr. Tanaka's decision-making process."
Cubs president Theo Epstein had no comment on the team's interest, though a source said they were meeting with Tanaka this week, as well.
Yankees officials also are expected to meet with him and reportedly appear willing to move off their desired $189-million luxury-tax threshold to make room for Tanaka.
"The whole $189 million issue is subject to having a championship team," the source said.
Other teams reported to be interested in him are the Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros.
* Alex Rodriguez is likely to find out in the next few days whether his drug suspension will be overturned. People familiar with the case told the Associated Press that arbitrator Fredric Horowitz could issue his decision this weekend. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
The New York Yankees third baseman, a three-time AL MVP, was suspended for 211 games on Aug. 5 by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. The penalty was given for alleged violations of the sport's drug agreement and labor contract and followed Major League Baseball's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance saying the discipline was without "just cause."
Horowitz, MLB's independent arbitrator, heard the case over 12 sessions from Sept. 30 until Nov. 20. The sides submitted briefs last month.
Rodriguez's lawyers have threatened to go to federal court in an attempt to overturn a decision not to their liking. The Supreme Court has given judges little leeway to alter arbitrator's rulings.
* Catcher Brett Hayes has agreed to a $630,000, 1-year contract with the Kansas City Royals, avoiding salary arbitration.
* Rangers lefthander Derek Holland will miss the start of the season after having surgery on his left knee. The Rangers say Holland injured his knee in a fall on the stairs in his home earlier this week.
* Lefthander Matt Thornton completed his $7 million, 2-year contract with the New York Yankees, who cut outfielder Vernon Wells. Thornton gets $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons under the deal, which was finalized yesterday.
* San Francisco Giants infielder Marco Guzman, 19, was suspended for the first 50 games of the season following a positive test under the minor league drug program. He tested positive for metabolites of Nandrolone, the commissioner's office said Friday.
* The San Diego Padres say a public memorial service for Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman will be held Jan. 18 at Petco Park. Coleman died Sunday at 89.