A plethora of Masahiro Tanaka rumors have surfaced from his initial visit stateside, but the biggest is that the Dodgers and Yankees have emerged as favorites to land the Japanese ace, per David Waldstein of the NY Times.
Waldstein indicates that the two-pronged front-runner rumor is currently the "consensus in Japan" and adds that Tanaka's wife prefers the West Coast, which would seem to give the Dodgers the edge. Tanaka's initial preferred cities were believed to be Los Angeles, New York, and Boston, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, so the latest rumor seems to jibe with that information.
The deep-pocketed Dodgers are one of several clubs -- along with the Yankees and Cubs -- who have tried the "we will not be outbid!" scare tactic in their pursuit of Tanaka, but they've softened on that stance some since the rumor emerged over the weekend. Bob Nightengale of USA Today, who reported Los Angeles's initial "all-out" stance, says now that the club doesn't plan on doing anything "crazy" like spending "wildly" to get Tanaka. Just how aggressive the Dodgers get with the Japanese right-hander may come down to how things are developing with Clayton Kershaw -- ESPN's Buster Olney believes the team will push harder for Tanaka if it's at an "impasse" with Kershaw in extension talks.
The Yankees have long been the presumed favorites to, if nothing else, throw gobs of money Tanaka's way. With Alex Rodriguez and his ~$25 million now officially off the books for 2014, there is no doubt that the Bombers will go hard after Tanaka. The savings from A-Rod's suspension won't help the Yankees stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold if they do sign Tanaka, but that seems very unlikely to be a deterrent for Brian Cashman and company at this point.
The third potentially "all-out" club, the Chicago Cubs, have indicated that they are prepared to offer Masahiro Tanaka a nine-figure contract, reports Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. The consensus on Tanaka has long been that he will receive upwards of $100 million, but so far the Cubs are the only team who have expressly indicated they're willing to go to nine figures. Mooney adds that the bidding war is expected to get "silly" as time runs out, and another club is likely to make a longer, bigger offer than Chicago.
The White Sox, Diamondbacks,
and Angels are among several other clubs who met with Tanaka in his time in Los Angeles, so just who ends up making that bigger offer is anyone's guess. At least one GM believes that a team is going to "come in and blow everyone away" with an offer, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. If the latest rumors are true, however, the Red Sox appear unlikely to be that team. Boston has reached out to Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, but they did not meet with the 25-year-old personally on his US visit, per Cafardo. Tanaka returned to Japan on Saturday.
While general notes and rumors like the ones above have emerged on the bidding process, there's been surprisingly little in the way of specifics considering the negotiating window closes in 11 days. Andrew Marchand of ESPN indicates that it's "been hard to pry info" of any real depth from Tanaka's camp or the interested clubs because both sides are playing their hands very close to the vest.