On Friday MLB Trade Rumors released their Power Rankings of the Top 10 Free Agents this offseason. The list begins obviously with Robinson Cano then moves to Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann. After that however is where it really starts to get interesting if you are a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors ranks Japanese right-handeder Masahiro Tanaka as the best starting pitcher in this year’s free agent class. Regular readers here at Jays Journal are probably already aware of how high I am on Tanaka. Dierkes had the following to say about he young phenom.
“Tanaka leaps onto the list as a contender for the best available starting pitcher. Not technically a free agent, Tanaka will have to be posted by his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He’ll play next year at age 25, coming off a 1.24 ERA in 181 innings for Rakuten.”
Tanaka is followed in order by Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda and A.J. Burnett who all made the top ten. I must admit that I’m surprised that Tanaka and Santana are ranked higher than Garza but as Dierkes has an answer.
“His peripheral stats were not bad aside from home runs and hits allowed, but the rough finish takes some of the shine off his free agency.”
Dierkes also reminds us that because Garza was traded in 2013 it won’t cost a first round pick to sign him since he isn’t eligible for a qualifying offer, which in my opinion makes him a more desirable candidate than Santana.
I’m still trying to figure out if Tanaka’s high-ranking is based on merit or simply the underwhelming lack of competition. But it probably doesn’t help the Blue Jays case to land him (if they are in fact interested). The Golden Eagles have yet to officially post Tanaka so he’s not really “available” but if they do he could be the most expensive acquisition in this year’s class.
For those interested, I attempted to hack an amateurish scouting report on Tanaka a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the link if you are interested and it does include a pretty awesome embedded video from YouTube.