There always will be questions over any professional who arrives at The Dance untested. Is the reported “flat 92-mph” fastball simply regulation Major League Baseball quality? How does it set up Tanaka’s knockout pitches? What club will go furthest out on the proverbial limb? The Angels have been most recently “unhelped” by pig-in-a-poke signings (Pujols, Hamilton). The Dodgers? Clayton Kershaw signed (after this blog was posted) at a record annual amount for seven years. Could they essentially afford two Kershaws? In terms of spending as a measure of success over the past decade, no franchise has fared worse than the Yankees. But they desperately need young pitching and marquee names. The Mariners? They just cast hundreds of millions to Robinson Cano and his handlers, Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports.
Another factor may involve the career of Tanaka’s wife, pop singer Mai Satoda. There also are whispers that Tanaka is burning the candle at both ends this offseason as well as questions about his high pitch counts: an ongoing U.S.-and-Canadian baseball preoccupation.
One thing is sure: Tanaka’s signing will be the highest-of-profile samplings of the internationalization of baseball, as the American Pastime commences its catchup in this regard with the worldwide impact of cricket.