Let me first make it clear that, although I have spent the majority of my life and currently reside in Arizona, I am in no way a fan of the state. If I were him I'd stay away from this oven. It's hot, too hot. There are too many rocks. Cacti are my natural enemy. The state tree looks like a giant weed. Scorpions are spooky. The Phoenix library smells weird. NO ONE USES THEIR TURN SIGNAL - AAAGGGHHH. That being said, this is definitely the fairest and most tasteful subjective pitch for
Whether people choose to believe anonymous (but, y'know, reliable) sources and the Jon Heymans and Ken Rosenthals of the world, the D-backs have continually been linked to Tanaka. The latest news suggested that the Diamondbacks, Yankees, and Cubs remain the biggest suitors to make an offer. There is also an update about whether or not he will be posted but it is in Japanese. I tried to translate, I think it says something about Tanaka using his tentacles to kill Godzilla and then he will move to America and become the new Uncle Sam.
For the sake of this article, let's assume he is posted and the three teams above are deemed the final three in the sweepstakes. Time to break it down, but first, this...
Yes, Arizona can conceivably afford him
The perception around the league is that Tanaka will command at least $100MM on top of the $20MM fee.
1 GM who wont be bidding for tanaka: "i dont think theres any doubt" he'll get more than $100M— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 17, 2013
This makes it very difficult for the Yankees to sneak in Tanaka without going over the luxury tax. Brian Cashman is hellbent on staying below that threshold and has made every signing over the past few seasons with the luxury tax in mind. Will he go all-in anyway?
As Jim outlined in this morning's article, the D-backs could potentially structure a deal that appeals to Tanaka and the organization thanks to the new television deal. Kevin Towers can squeeze him into this year's salary at approximately $14MM and max out the 2013 payroll around $115MM. With contracts expiring and arbitration raises in 2014 it will likely look similar but should have more room to grow. Estimating even a modest $5MM growth YoY, the D-backs have space for a long-term deal. A deal over six years at $110MM may do the trick - split up as $14m, $18m, $19m, $19m, $20m, $20m. The $20MM fee will likely have to be an out-of-pocket expense that Kendrick will have to eat. It's an "all-in" approach that has the ultimate ceiling.
Meanwhile, Chicago likely has the most flexible salary of the three teams but will they be willing to spend it? The Cubs need to rely on a lot of youth and there are still many unanswered questions - quick, name five current or up and coming Cubs players! I lost. Then again, it's never a bad thing to have a top of the rotation pitcher on your team.
So there's a chance the D-backs could offer him a quality deal. So what? What else is there to like?
It happens nearly every off-season; "[Free Agent player] could be interested in Arizona as he currently lives in the state with his family." There is no doubt that many players around the league spend the majority of their time in the valley. Tanaka could come to Arizona and immediately settle down with his family without the need for a summer or winter home. Maybe someone should show him this video?
Look at all dat potential. He can live in the same state that he works out in and plays. Arizona has no earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or blizzards. New York and Chicago are old, stinky, and brutally cold weather cities. Their fans will disown you at the slightest sight of struggle because they have climate-induced anxiety. Go ahead and make $20MM a year in the comfort of AZ!
Diamondbacks Are a Contender
Easily spun, it has been pointed out numerous times - the Diamondbacks have their core players locked down for the next few years. When healthy, the team is lined with talent. Tanaka has the chance to join a team that can seriously contend for a playoff spot for the next 3-4 years. He can hang out with Dave Duncan and drink martini's at the Ghost Lounge. There is also the very possible chance the he could help form one of the best one-two duos in baseball with Archie Bradley. Plus, Paul Goldschmidt will continue to be Paul Goldschmidt.
The Yankees will still be involved in the Alex Rodriguez controversy when the season starts. That alone should be enough of a deterrent. Does Tanaka really want to listen to reporters asking him about the A-Rod situation? Also, they are in one of the league's most competitive divisions and don't forget that C.C. Sabathia will likely eat all of the food. Tanaka, please, don't fool yourself into thinking that orange slices and Hi-C drinks will be ready at the end of the game. Sabathia likely consumed everything already.
If Tanaka ever wanted to win a championship he should probably avoid the Cubs.
Be Part of a Rivalry
The Cubs and Yankees obviously have rivalries of their own but the D-backs have a rivalry with the Dodgers that is still fresh in everyone's mind. Tanaka has the chance to join a team and be an instant impact in a rivalry with what is likely to be the two best teams in the NL West. A Puig vs. Tanaka at-bat that leads to Puig being brushed off the plate and throwing a tantrum is worth the $100MM alone.
Tanaka - #18
Hiroki Kuroda wears #18 for New York and Chris Rusin wears it for Chicago. Currently, no one wears that uni number for the Diamondbacks. Tanaka can keep his number without conflict! Hooray!
That seamless transition from red/white jersey Rakuten to red/white jersey Arizona. We've all got to know you wearing red, Tanaka. Make it part of your legacy. The Japanese flag is red/white as well... this just makes too much sense. The Yankees are still stuck in black and white and the Cubs are blue - the color for hope in Japanese culture. You don't have to "hope" with the Diamondbacks, they won a championship less than 15 years ago (when they beat the Yankees - wink, wink)
The Best Pizza In the Country
The Diamondbacks have a chance to throw money at Tanaka and do their best to convince him that Arizona is the place to be. I expect royalty fee's if everything works out perfectly and he chooses to join the D-backs. They would have had to use this article in persuading him.