Contract Crowdsourcing: Masahiro Tanaka

Since it’s Masahiro Tanaka day here at FanGraphs — Tony and I both wrote about him this morning — and because I find our reader’s expectations of contract prices to be endlessly fascinating, let’s go ahead and break out the Contract Crowdsourcing series again for MLB’s newest sort-of-free-agent.

This won’t be an exactly apples to apples comparison to the other 47 crowdsourced free agent contracts you guys already did, since we now have information about the market rate for players this winter and how teams are reacting to having more money than ever before, but it should still be a fun exercise. As usual, the form is below, though because I made this one, it won’t be as pretty as the ones Carson created a few months ago. As my wife will tell you, I’m more function over design, so it’s just a plain and simple two step form. We’ll collect a representative sample of the readership, and then I’ll publish the results either later this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Two simple questions: how many years will Tanaka sign for, and what will the AAV of his salary be in those years? Note that because we know that the posting fee is going to be $20 million, there’s no need to forecast that, so you should only include the salary Tanaka will receive, and then his total cost will be the forecast years and dollars plus $20 million. But don’t include the $20 million. Really. Don’t do it. Just the AAV of what he’ll receive. Got it? Okay, go.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

34 Responses to “Contract Crowdsourcing: Masahiro Tanaka”

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  1. Jaack says:

    To the Dodgers for 6 years/San Fernando Valley

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  2. filihok says:

    8 years, $18 million. Why not?

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    • bcp33bosox says:

      I ended up the same, 8yrs/144…He is younger and prices have come up a bit since Matsuzaka’s 51.1M posting and 6/52 million contract in 2007. Even though Darvish’s final posting was similar in cost (51.7M) his AAV for his contract was slightly higher (5/50 plus a 6th option year) and many would argue Matsuzaka struggles the previous few years had kept Darvish’s price down. Now Darvish’s recent success may well push Ma-Kun’s contract cost up.

      Plus now you have a capped bid a full 30M less (possibly some teams might spend this on the player) than Seibu Lions and Nippon Ham got for Dice-K and Darvish respectively. Most importantly you have to figure in the open market, so competition in the contract negotiations from quite a few reported big market teams (NYY, LAA, LAD, CHC et al) and that will almost certainly drive the price up.

      On the other hand, the posting fees don’t count towards AAV, so they are not figured in as part of the CBT, but a higher contract would be. This may eventually limit some teams, but probably not until after the price is well over 100M.

      With Ma-Kun’s young age, the capped bid and basically open market negotiations, I cannot imagine anything less than 100M. 6/120, could get it done, but I think 8/144 is possible. In the end Ma-Kun might take a lesser contract to go to a preferred team, but we’ll have to wait and see.

      My question, if Rakuten can only get 20M, why not wait until next year when he would have only 1 year left on his contract? I guess it’s more of a risk waiting, but Ma-Kun would have potential value to Eagles as they try to defend their championship. And as long as he was healthy and wasn’t absolutely terrible, he would most likely still be able to get them the 20M bid.

      Japanese teams use to have control over a players ability for sponsorship deals and usually got a percentage of the sponsorship money. Rakuten voted against the new bidding process. I wonder what Tanaka said to get them to agree to post him this year. We know players in America have no-trade clauses, which usually means they want to be compensated to wiave them…Could Japanese teams do something similarly to agree to post their players earlier than the last year?

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      • TKDC says:

        It only takes one sucker, right, but isn’t using one comp, who is really not that similar a pitcher, to project Tanaka as a surefire front-line pitcher a little, you know, batshit crazy?

        6/102 +20 fee

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  3. NEPP says:

    6/120 in the end for a $20 M AAV.

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  4. jtmorgan says:

    In the end I’m thinking someting crazy like a 7/$140 deal with an opt-out after 4 or 5 years that allows him to become a free agent again around 29-30 years old.

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  5. ChrisS says:

    Is there a post comparing the historical actual contracts against the crowd sourcing results?

    It seems that the crowd sourced contracts this offseason have been waaaaaay below market value.

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  6. Atreyu Jones says:

    $180 million over 9 years.

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  7. Charlie says:

    6/108 + 20 M fee

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    • dang says:

      That’s where I’m at. I think Yu Darvish’s success is definitely the biggest help for Tanaka, in terms of getting more money, but I still think overall teams won’t be willing to go more than 18m/yr. Which is still a lot of money for a man who hasn’t thrown a single pitch in the MLB.

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    • Same, though this seems like a reserved expectation considering the absurd amount of money teams throw around these days.

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  8. Dr. Evil says:

    One billion dollars.

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  9. Eric Feczko says:

    Count me in the minority, but I think he’ll only sign for six years/132 + 20 M fee.

    Signing pitchers to long term deals is extremely risky. I see teams hedging their bets by offering more money in a shorter time frame. I also think it maximizes Tanaka’s opportunities as a FA. Six years will mean that Tanaka will be 31/32 at the end of the contract, and therefore will have the opportunity at another 4 year/80 contract at the end of it. If he signs for 8/9 years, he will be 33-35, which may not guarantee a four year contract.

    Then again, an opt-out clause could change everything…

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    • MustBunique says:

      This is where I’m at with some sort of opt-out built in. Teams are going to have to pay more than what he’s projected to be worth to get him, and the bidding is going to be a little out of control as the winning team won’t be giving up any draft picks and teams are riding the local TV deals bubble.

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  10. Jobob says:

    Some needy/dumb team is going to pay 210M over 9 years + $20 M fee.

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  11. Casey Close says:


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  12. Ryan says:

    Book it.

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  13. Andy says:

    Whoops, I included the $20 million dollar posting fee. I wish that there were some warnings so I wouldn’t have done so.

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  14. GilaMonster says:

    There is little contract baseline. I’l probably say 6/$130. Darvish got a $52 million posting fee plus 6/$60. But the new posting system allows nearly all teams to be in on him/there is a ton of money floating around along with desperate team.

    But then again. Anibal Sanchez only got 5/$88M last season and teams are very hesitant to extending their own young star pitchers. Kershaw,Scherzer,Bailey,Strasburg…etc all have earned extensions, but teams aren’t rushing to do so. Last one I remember is King Felix and Tanaka isn’t going to touch that.

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  15. pft says:

    10/180 with a 6 yr player opt-out and 2 team options beyond 10 years. Salary front loaded with 120 paid out in 6 years, and 60 they final 4 years.

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  16. lesmash says:

    I see it as 6/$120 as a few others have said. He may well want the shorter contract himself to be a FA again while still in his early 30s, and at that rate should not need an opt-out clause.

    If I’m the team and a player asks me for an opt-out in a contract, I simply tell him it costs money, same as a buyout costs teams money. Something like $10 million or so.

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  17. David Bruno says:


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  18. Ghost of Kei Igawa says:

    7 / 168?

    Young guy with strong stats and scouting reports and no draft pick compensation attached and there are few top starters available (other than maybe David Price, who will cost a ton in prospects and the Rays unlikely to trade him in the division).

    I wish I could know whether to root for the Yankees to obtain him:

    If he’s going to be terrible, I want them to give him a boatload and his contract will be a burden for years to come.

    If he’s going to be great, I want him headed anywhere other than the Spankees.

    My only question is who is bidding other than the Yankees? Have to believe the Rangers and Tigers are fairly tapped out after their offseasons; some other big market teams like the Mets and Angels are not players. Other budget-conscious teams like the Rays, A’s, Marlins, and similar teams are out before the bidding starts.

    I suppose maybe Mariners or Dodgers?

    Not sure who else I’d consider that might bid high for this guy, which obviously runs counter to my relatively high prediction for years and money that I set out above.

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  19. Green Mountain Boy says:

    He’s going to get huge money, no doubt, but I’d stay completely away if I were a GM. I think this is a classic case of “Buyer Beware”, and here’s why.

    Look at his statistical trend the past three years in K/9 – 2011: 9.6 – 2012: 8.8 – 2013: 7.8. Does this not raise red flags for you??? It does for me, especially for a 25 year-old with the kind of (ab)usage this guy has had. Let’s project his 2014 K/9 if he stayed in Japan… 7.0 seems fair… and what is the MLB equivalent? Maybe 5.8? 6.0? That doesn’t sound like a $15-$20M pitcher. It sounds like Jason Vargas. With an arm in the early stages of going bad.

    And what about his last start in the NBL Championship? He threw 160 pitches. 160! And then pitched in relief the NEXT DAY!!! Who does this remind me of… let’s see… maybe Matt Harvey and the pitch counts he piled up in college? Even with great mechanics, it caught up to him this year, and it will catch up to Tanaka as well. Probably sooner than later. He’s no Yu Darvish.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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