The New York Post reported Monday that assistant Yankee GM Billy Eppler and special assistant Don Wakamatsu were among the dozens of Major League Baseball officials watching 24 year old Masahiro Tanaka pitch for the Rakuten Eagles last week. If, as expected, Tanaka is posted this winter, he is expected to be the beneficiary of a big bidding war as one of the top free agents of this off-season.
Tanaka’s record in Japan is 75-35, 3.50, and last week he was up to 96 MPH with what one club official calls “a very good variety of breaking stuff.”
The concern MLB scouts had has revolved around Tanaka’s command, which some feel might lead to a transition to the American baseball culture. If Tanaka is posted and the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs and perhaps even sleepers like the Mariners are involved, he will be a wealthy man.