The Bombers have been present for several of Tanaka's starts, per Hale's source, and sent assistant GM Billy Eppler and scout Don Wakamatsu to watch the right-hander pitch last week.
Tanaka has been touted as the "next Yu Darvish" since pretty much the moment the Rangers right-hander left Japan two years ago, so he is likely to be incredibly expensive if he's put through the posting system this winter.
While the Yankees' endeavor to get under the luxury tax threshold next year may price them out of big free agents domestically, it may not hurt their pursuit of Tanaka. The way the posting system is currently run, the Yankees could pay an arm and a leg for the chance to negotiate with Tanaka and not have to worry about hitting the luxury tax limit.
As it stands now, all the money from the winning blind bid goes to the player's NPB club, meaning none of it counts against payroll. MLB and NPB are in discussions to change this about the posting system, however, so the Yankees may not have this advantage much longer.
Tanaka, 24, owns a 1.20 earned-run average in 172 innings with the Rakuten Golden Eagles this season and is in the midst of a record 23-straight winning decisions, dating back to last year. He owns a 2.32 ERA over 1,275 innings in seven full seasons with Rakuten, having joined the ichigun ("first league") at the age of 18.
He made his first appearance on an American stage this spring in the World Baseball Classic, striking out 12 and allowed just two runs in seven innings of work.