Masahiro Tanaka rumors: Bidding for Japanese pitcher could exceed $140 million

Koji Watanabe

Rumors on how much Tanaka could earn just keep getting crazier and crazier as he has several top-spending teams chasing him.

At least one industry source believes that Masahiro Tanaka could sign a contract worth over $140 million, reports Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

More Masahiro Tanaka news: Blue Jays confirm interest in pitcher

Tanaka has been the most highly-desired pitcher on the market this offseason after a highly successful career with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Nippon Pro Baseball. From a fiscal point of view, he is fortunate that his move to America comes at a time when the posting rules have changed to better benefit the player and several top-spending teams all need a top pitcher.

The new posting agreement will mean he earns much more money as much less (a cap of $20 million) will go to Rakuten in the form of a release fee. The new rules also mean he can negotiate with any MLB team, not just one that wins a bidding war on a posting fee. Thus, Tanaka has teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Mariners and Diamondbacks all vying to one-up each other and offer the right-hander a bigger contract.

When Tanaka was first officially posted, it appeared the Mariners were the favorites to acquire his services. Now, however, the Dodgers and Yankees are the top contenders for Tanaka. Over the last two weeks, the Dodgers interest has only grown as they may or may not be willing to outbid any price another team would set. Meanwhile, the Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman have been fixated all winter long on Tanaka. With $27.5 million saved in cap room thanks to the Alex Rodriguez suspension, New York could still sign him to a huge deal and manage to stay under the $189 million luxury tax.

Meanwhile, rumor has it that Tanaka's wife would prefer to live on the west coast, seemingly making the Dodgers favorites. However, great gobs of money have been known to change people's minds and open them up to living elsewhere.

Tanaka has been one of the top pitchers in the NPB recently, posting an ERA below 2.00 each of the past three seasons. He has garnered comparisons to Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish, though most believe that Darvish is the more talented of the two.

Tanaka still has ten days -- until Jan. 24 at 4:00 pm ET -- to agree to a deal with a team. If no deal is made, he will return to Rakuten for one more season, after which he will assuredly be posted once again.

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