Tanaka signs with Yankees, what’s next for the Rangers


Sep 30, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish sits in the dugout with his teammates during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes finally came to an end today.  The Texas Rangers were rumored early to be in, but when it was all done he signed with the New York Yankees.   Tanaka will receive the 5th highest pay day for a pitcher at $155 million over 7 years with an option to opt out after 4 years, also it includes a no trade clause.  Also, that doesn’t include the $20 million posting fee.  That’s a pretty staggering contract for an untested pitcher in majors.

It did work out well for the Texas Rangers with the signing of Yu Darvish.  Which comes at a bargain now compared to Tanaka.  The Texas Rangers signed Darvish at the end of the 2011 season for $60 million over 6 years plus a $51.7 million posting fee.  How does Tanaka compare to Davish?  Reviewing their Nippon League numbers Darvish beats out Tanaka almost across the board.  He has a better ERA at 1.99 vs Tanaka’s 2.30.  Granted, both pitchers had a very good run over their 7 seasons in the NPB league in Japan.

Has the Yu Darvish signing worked out for the Texas Rangers, yes, and his WAR backs this up.  In 2012 he posted a 3.9 and in 2013 he posted a 5.8.  According to the numbers, Yu Darvish needs to post at least a 3.72 for the Rangers to get their value out of Yu Darvish.  When it comes to Masahiro Tanaka, he will need to post a 5.0 for the Yankees.

Is Masahiro Tanaka that good for the Yankees to spend that kind of money on him?  According to Richard Durrent ESPN Dallas, no.  He talked to one of the scouts that has seen Tanaka and below are his comments.

"He’s a grinder with good stamina and focus. He competes and is all business on the mound. His fastball can touch 96 and he mixes a curve, slider, cutter and splitter with the splitter being the separator. Overall has good command and pitchability. But he has a flat plane and there’s not much deception there. The splitter is a plus pitch, but the others aren’t really plus pitches. His stuff and ceiling [are] below Darvish, but a solid pitcher that is ready for the big leagues. (ESPN Dallas Richard Durrett)"

Yu Darvish had an outstanding season in 2013, with 2 near no-hitters and 4 games where he lost 1-0.  That means Tanaka will need to do that every year for the next 7 years.  Seems doubtful that will happen.  As bad as the Texas Rangers need another pitcher, Tanaka probably isn’t worth the money the Yankees are paying him.  But, the Yankees are the Yankees, and they will over pay to get what they want.

What’s next for the Texas Rangers?  They still need another starter to replace Derek Holland.  There are still a few options such as trading for David Price, which is pretty doubtful.  Also, they could re-sign Matt Garza.  In the last half of the season last year, Garza pitched well for the Texas Rangers.  He finished with season with a record of 4-5 with an ERA of 4.38.

The Texas Rangers also have the option of using some internal candidates such as Robbie Ross, Nick Tepesch or Tanner Scheppers.  Robbie Ross had some issue after the all-star break this past season and played in a few games in the Dominican Winter League to work through those issues.  Nick Tepesch started 17 games for the Rangers last year and finished with an ERA 4.84 and a record of 4-6.  When the season started, Tepesch pitched pretty well, but his ERA climbed starting in May.

Tanner Scheppers is reportedly one of the candidates to be the closer in 2014, but with the Derek Holland injury, it appears that the closer role will go to Neftali Feliz and Scheppers could be a starter.

In my opinion, the best option is to go to the open market and find an established starter.  It hasn’t worked out well taking a pitcher from the bullpen and moving him back and forth in that role.  Matt Garza pitched well in 2013, he could have better numbers in 2014 if he has some run support.  Garza also brings some passion to the game, which is something the Texas Rangers seemed to lack last September.

Spring training starts soon, Jon Daniels needs to get this done.