Phillies: Masahiro Tanaka a stone worth turning this offseason?

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 1: Masahiro Tanaka
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 1: Masahiro Tanaka /

One of baseball’s biggest mystery players could land in the Phillies lap

Every few seasons there’s an international player who takes control of the baseball offseason. This year it will likely be two-way Japanese superstar Shohei Otani, who follows the footsteps of Ichiro, Yu Darvish, and Masahiro Tanaka.

For one reason or another, the Phillies have rarely dipped into the Asian player market. That’s not to say they’ve never had them on their roster, look at Hyun Soo Kim, Tadhito Iguchi, So Taguchi, but they’ve never been in the market for the big names coming over.

Under Matt Klentak and Gabe Kapler one this is clear about the direction of the organization: no stone will be unturned. In fact, Kapler said that in his introductory press conference Thursday. It’s all about thinking progressively and giving the team the best chance to win both now and in the future.

One stone that might be turnable this offseason is Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Coming from Japan in 2014 Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155,000,000 contract with the Yankees, including $155,000,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $22,142,857. However, Tanaka has a very tempting opt-out clause this offseason that may be exercised.

If Tanaka opts out of his contract he’s forgoing $67 million over three seasons, which is dangerously close to what he could command on the open market. Tanaka can either take the money and have a chance at a ring with the Yankees next year or hope to crack an average salary of $25 million over four to six years.

At the age of 29, Tanaka is still relatively young with great stuff. Injuries are a concern with the righty pitching through a torn UCL, which normally requires Tommy John surgery. Aaron Nola also opted not to have the surgery and has pitched well, so the Phillies would be holding their breaths every time two of their five starters takes the mound.

I won’t be marking Tanaka as a player Philadelphia must avoid this offseason, but I want to know everything about his elbow injury before I consider offering a $100 million+ contract.