Highly coveted Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees agreed to a seven-year $155 million deal on Wednesday. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the details. It’s a record amount given to an incoming Japanese player under the new posting system that caps team transfer fees at $20 million.
But with Tanaka off the free agent board, this now means that pieces should fall into play soon for the remaining top pitchers. This includes likely departing Cleveland Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jiménez as well as Kansas City’s Ervin Santana and Texas’ Matt Garza.
MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo shares that one National League executive bets that deals could be reached for those three as early as this weekend.
Today is actually Jiménez’s 30th birthday. He had an outstanding final four-fifths of 2013 with the Tribe. In his 27 starts from April 29-onward, he went 13-7 with a 2.61 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 165.2 innings. He arguably was baseball’s best pitcher in the second half.
This followed nearly two full seasons of sub-standard pitching, among the worst for any full-time starter. That’s what makes his free agency status fairly intriguing in this rapidly changing market place. Reportedly, he is requesting $14 million per year for multiple seasons.
Jiménez declined Cleveland’s one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million. That means any signing team will have to forfeit their highest available draft pick for the right to sign him in free agency. That caveat means there’s a small but non-zero possibility he could somehow find his way back to Cleveland.