Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yankees pony up for Tanaka, and the Dodgers are better off for it

No disrespect to Masahiro Tanaka, but I'm glad the Dodgers didn't get him.

Not for that price.  Not even for a mega-rich team like the Dodgers.

For those of you who don't know, Japan's best pitcher decided to don the Yankee pinstripes for the next seven seasons and $155 million today.  He'll get an opt-out after four seasons and a full no-trade clause.  Not too shabby for a guy who has yet to make one big league pitch.

Look, would Tanaka have helped the Dodgers?  Absolutely.  If he signed, then the top four of their rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Tanaka would be deadly.  There isn't a weak pitcher in that bunch, and you can legitimately say the Dodgers are favorites to beat almost anybody four out of five games.

But even though money is not an object in LA, they're still better off not giving ANOTHER huge contract to a pitcher.  Just look at what the top three in the rotation are raking in: Kershaw - seven years and $215 million, Greinke - six years and $147 million, Ryu - six years and $36 million.  Heck, even Chad Billingsley has one year left on his three-year, $35 million deal, with an option for 2015.

If you add up all the bucks, it's $433 million.  Oh, and how about the $17 million for each of the past two seasons the Dodgers have been paying Josh Beckett since he came over in August of 2012 from the Red Sox.  That's $34 million, bumping the total up to $467 million.

Do I even want to remind all of you about Brandon League's HORRIFIC three-year, $22.5 million deal that still has two years remaining?  Sorry, but I had to go there.

The bottom line is that as good of a player as Tanaka could end up being, the Dodgers have more than committed enough money to the pitching side of the equation.  Now they need to take that reported $100+ million they offered Tanaka and use it on the offense.

How about extending Hanley Ramirez?  Yes, that comes with a risk, but it's hard to deny how impactful his bat was in the lineup last season.  Perhaps the Dodgers show good faith in him by rewarding him with a deal before Spring Training.

In looking at the list of players in their "contract year," about the only ones who jump out are Billy Butler, Adam Lind, Chase Headley, and Aramis Ramirez.  Not exactly the most exciting players, but ones who have shown some good to really good power.  If any of them are on the trading block during the season, the Dodgers are definitely a team that could offer up the cash to take on a contract or two.

Best of luck to Tanaka in New York, as the Yankees are really trying to find superstars now that Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, and Alex Rodriguez are all gone for one reason or another, and Derek Jeter appears to be on his last legs of life.  But in the end, I'm glad the Dodgers came up short.

That could lead them to coming out big in the end.

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