MLB Free Agents 2014 Updates: NY Yankees, LA Dodgers Among Finalists In Masahiro Tanaka Race
Masahiro Tanaka has reportedly narrowed down his choices of possible destinations, with reports saying that the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers are now favored to acquire the Japanese pitcher.
NY Times reporter David Waldstein, citing sources close to the situation, said that Tanaka's preferred destinations are down to the Yankees and the Dodgers. The Yankees were a consensus favorite since the righthander's name surfaced in free agency talks, while the Dodgers remain in the mix due to the wife of the Japanese ace.
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"Consensus in Japan right now is that Yankees and Dodgers are favorites on Tanaka and word is his wife prefers to be on West Coast," Waldstein posted on his Twitter account.
Between the two deep-pocketed and big market teams, the Yankees are still viewed as the favorite to win the bidding war for the 25-year-old pitcher. ESPN reported that the "desperate" Yankees could be forced to offer a huge contract just to outbid the Dodgers.
The Yankees are in dire need of another pitcher to complete their starting rotation currently composed of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova.
Their starting rotation is viewed as the biggest loophole in their star-studded lineup with one rival GM saying that the Yankees look like an 80-win team instead of a 90-win team mainly because of their pitching rotation. The Yankees are expected to make moves that are triggered by the 162-game suspension handed to Alex Rodriguez.
"The Yankees have the greater need, and maybe a little more pressure to sign Tanaka after learning they won't have to pay A-Rod in 2014. The Dodgers are perceived by some rival officials to be more shameless in their bidding, untethered to market prices shaped by other teams, and more driven by what they want." ESPN noted.
Earlier reports also named the Los Angeles Angels as another possible landing spot for the former Rakuten Golden Eagles star pitcher, but general manager Jerry Dipoto squashed such speculations, revealing that their club did not meet and are not scheduled to talk to Tanaka.
"We do like our pitching staff and the depth we've been able to come up with," Dipoto told The LA Times. "We know there is some uncertainty with a handful of young pitchers as they learn the league, but we believe in their ability."
Tanaka, who went 24-0 and an impressive earned run average of 1.27 for the Golden Eagles in the Japanese League last season, has until Jan. 24 to make up his mind.