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Yankees to pursue Tanaka

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The Yankees are expected to pursue Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

Koji Watanabe

The New York Yankees have serious interest in signing Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka this winter, writes George A. King III of the New York Post

The 24 year old right-hander is expected to be posted by the NPB's Rakuten Golden Eagles this winter, and a heavy bidding war for the pitcher, who some scout have dubbed as "the best pitcher to ever come from Japan", is expected to ensue. Tanaka, who has pitched for Rakuten since he was just 18 years old, has a 2.32 ERA with 1,210 strikeouts in 1,284 innings in Japan, including a masterful 24-0, 1.24 ERA performance this season.

The Yankees, who are currently trying to get under baseball's $189 million luxury tax threshold, likely view Tanaka's potential posting fee, which some project could be as high as $60 million, as a minor hurdle considering that the fee would not count towards their 2014 payroll. Tanaka's contract (expected to be in the $50-$60 million range) would count towards the luxury tax, but the Yankees would probably consider that price to be a small fee to pay for a potential star, especially considering the state of the Yankees' rotation.

As it currently stands, the only Yankees starting pitchers under contract for 2014 are Ivan Nova, the declining CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda, who has not pitched in the majors since 2012. There is little doubt that Tanaka would be a significant upgrade over the likes of David Huff and David Phelps.

King writes that the Yankees will have plenty of competition in securing the rights to Tanaka, as the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Rangers are all expected to make generous bids for his services. Tanaka is not eligible to be posted until November 1st.

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