Dec 9, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos talks with reporters during the MLB Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays Didn't Change Course For Tanaka, And That's Not Necessarily Bad

When it became known that Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka had made his decision, inking a 7-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees, there was a sizable groan from north of the border, but it seemed to be minimal considering another prize had slipped through Toronto’s fingers. However, things got a little heated later in the day when John Lott found a source to throw a bit of fuel on the fire.

In an afternoon post for the National Post, Lott hears from a source that the Blue Jays pulled out of the Tanaka bidding when the contract length started to exceed the club’s soft policy on long-term deals past five seasons. Further complicating matters, Toronto had no interest in extending Tanaka an opt-out clause after four seasons either. Understandably, the masses did not take kindly to the report.





However, while we can all sit here and grind our gears about the Blue Jays and their ridiculous stance of limiting free agent offers to five years or less, there is a bigger picture here. Years aside, the Blue Jays were never truly in this bidding. The Yankees, unburdened by Alex Rodriguez‘s contract for one season, were prepared to blow any team out of the water, and that is exactly what they did here.

At $22+ million a season, Masahiro Tanaka will be the most expensive question mark ever, having never thrown a pitch in Major League Baseball. Given the success rate of Japanese pitchers in the Major Leagues, that is a huge gamble to take, even for the Yankees, who have already had the albatrosses of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa hung around their necks from taking a similar path. Would the Blue Jays have been able to weather that type of mistake?

No, Toronto took a path, that while it appears ugly for now, was the right move to make for the team, both present and future. They will plug their rotation hole(s) with one of the available free agents in Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, or maybe even a Bronson Arroyo, and they will hang on the hope that last year was the anomaly, that their team will play to the potential they thought they had a year ago.

And in the corner of his office, Alex Anthopoulos will stare out the window, casting the evil-eyed mojo toward New York City, waiting to see if Tanaka can possibly live up to the expectations if his contract. Can he possibly live up to being paid on par with Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, or even Zack Greinke?

Only time will tell, but those are awfully expensive seconds ticking away.


The Blue Jays should grab one of those pitchers by the start of spring. Be there by getting your Toronto Blue Jays spring training tickets here.

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Tags: Masahiro Tanaka Toronto Blue Jays

  • Jason Oriente

    How many different interviews did AA give while standing in that position? Each article displays it ☺

    • Kyle Franzoni

      Unfortunately, we only have a finite collection of AA images to pull from. Hopefully as the season gets closer we’ll get some more.

  • jays4life77

    i disagree, the fact they pulled out shows its not a soft stance and never has been which is fine IF we were able to develop any of these so called big time prospects. However the fact we dont develop anyone we draft at all shows this is going to be a huge problem! Sanchez might have the hype but unless he figures out how to control a baseball he is never panning out, stroman had a good year last year but his size is still in question plus i wouldnt put him as big prospect either, number 3 ceiling at best. So tell me this, if we can not develop any players wether it be pitching or position players which we also suck at developing then how the hell are we going to compete. Make all the trades you want but there is a reason teams will give us the older players they dont want anymore. that doesnt help us get younger or better

    • Kyle Franzoni

      I’m not saying that the stance makes sense, but the Tanaka bidding being what it was, there was just no way a deal of this stature was economically sound for the Blue Jays. They were better off moving along at this stage.

  • brad

    Good Article