The D-backs aren't willing to discuss the finer points of the strategy they plan to use in wooing Tanaka away from his major-market suitors, but there is a plan in place.
"Really, a lot of it is selling who we are and what we're about. I can speak for Ken and Derrick and myself that we're pretty easygoing people that are not real plastic at all. Kind of 'What you see is what you get,' and I think some people like that style."
The 25-year-old right hander has been mystifying Nippon League hitters since 2007. In addition to his often-cited 2.30 career ERA and 99-35 record, Tanaka has posted similar a similar strikeout rate to former NPB ace Yu Darvish. The two players don't compare to one another particularly well -- Tanaka's strikeout numbers in the majors aren't expected to be historical, as Darvish's have been -- but in punching out 8.5 batters per nine innings, Tanaka has nearly matched Darvish K-rate of 8.9 over a similar NPB timeline.
The Diamondbacks can't get Darvish, but they do seem to be in the market for an ace. If they fail to land Tanaka, they could intensify their efforts to land one of the top remaining major league free agents or attempt to overwhelm the Rays in an attempt to land David Price. For now, the club is focused on Tanaka.
Last season, D-backs' starters finished 10th in the National League in ERA, and other than Wade Miley and Pat Corbin, the team didn't have another starter throw more than 150 innings. Healthy seasons from Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill could aid the team considerably in improving on a disappointing 2013 campaign for the rotation, but Arizona appears to be determined to add an arm to the front end.
Tanaka could command an investment of over $100 million, but the Diamondbacks seem willing to risk that investment for what might be the best pitcher left on the open market.