Yes, Blue Jays fans, Masahiro Tanaka signed with the Yankees today for a contract that will clock in at $155 million over seven years (with an opt-out after four years).
If you read Blue Jays from Away on a regular basis, you’ll know that this is no surprise to me. I’ll toot my own horn by saying that I wasn’t far off in my prediction of Tanaka’s contract in my first post on the subject on December 26.
My prognostication that the Blue Jays wouldn’t sign him turned out to be true, obviously, but I was also closer than I thought I’d be with the length and amount. I overshot by a year, predicting an eight-year pact but I had the dollar figure spot on when I said that it would cost his signing team between $150 and $160 million to get Tanaka’s signature.
So, voila, let the competition begin to sign Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo and whatever non-Japanese starter you might want to pursue. Honestly, none of those guys get me too excited. They’ve all got their flaws and could end up being expensive mid-rotation starters like Mark Buehrle by the end (or beginning) of their contracts. I guess if I had to choose between any of them, I’d prefer Jimenez because, as David Stewart at Jays Journal pointed out earlier today, he doesn’t give up nearly as many gopher balls as Santana.
And other stuff . . .
I never got around to writing about it but the Jays made some earth shattering news (hint: sarcasm) when they signed Ricardo Nanita to a minor league deal. Again, this isn’t a surprise. I’ve heard that Nanita is good friends with Jose Bautista and, along with getting an experienced minor league outfielder for the upper levels of the system, it keeps Joey Bats happy. No big deal.
Another guy that I missed was the signing of 26-year-old Venezuelan righty Greg Infante to a minor league contract at the end of December. He pitched four and two-thirds decent innings for the White Sox in 2010 but has been in the minors ever since. He pitched for the Dodgers’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last season and was alright but there’s a reason why this signing went way under the radar. As far as I can tell, there’s no big league spring training invite attached.
The Blue Jays also signed a couple of international free agents (prospects) over the past month that largely went unnoticed. The first was 19-year-old Mexican lefty Manuel Nunez and the second was Dominican right-handed pitcher Hansel Rodriguez, who will be 17 this season. Expect to see both of them in the Dominican Summer League next year.
Finally, the Blue Jays extended a non-roster invite to Spring Training to shortstop Kevin Nolan. I had a chance to meet Kevin last summer in New Hampshire and I couldn’t be happier for him. I think he’s going to be back in Double-A this season (mainly because of the glut of infielders who will be at the Triple-A level) but it’s great that he’ll get a taste of big league camp. He’s one of the nicest guys that I came across last year and we wish him the best.