Ball Star

Will Royals make a run at pitcher Masahiro Tanaka?

Updated: 2014-01-01T16:12:55Z

By PETE GRATHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Why wouldn’t the Royals take a shot at Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka?

The new agreement between Major League Baseball and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball means the maximum posting fee for a Japanese player is $20 million. In the past, MLB teams submitted sealed bids to the player’s team and the winning team was given a window to negotiate a contract.

That led to the Rangers (for Yu Darvish) and the Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka) reportedly offering more than $51 million simply for the right to sign a player.

The posting fee is paid only if a player signs with a team, so in theory it would give small-market teams (like the Royals) a better chance to get Tanaka, who played at Rakuten, or another Japanese star.

On top of that, the posting fee can be paid in installments.*

*You know, like a layaway program at certain stores.

So why not go after Tanaka?

Well, the Boston Globe reported the Royals “will get into it,” meaning the hunt for Tanaka.

When asked if the Royals would make a bid for Tanaka, general manager Dayton Moore didn’t tip his hand, which could be considered a good thing for Royals fans.

“That’s nothing I’d really say about that, because it doesn’t benefit the Royals in any way to announce what we’re doing or what we’re not doing,” Moore said. “There’s nothing I can really say about that. It’s a private negotiation.”

Tanaka is just 25 years old and coming off a sensational season in which he went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA, so he’s likely to get a huge contract offer from a big-market team, such as the Yankees, Dodgers and Cubs.

OK, if Tanaka doesn’t end up in a Royals uniform, how about Ervin Santana? The rumor mill churned out the possibility of Santana returning to the Royals for a one-year deal, but that seems unlikely.

“I would look for us to go into spring training with what we have at this point, but I don’t know,” Moore said. “The climate changes day by day and we’re always looking for ways to improve our team.”

And Moore believes the Royals already have improved after adding second baseman Omar Infante, pitcher Jason Vargas and outfielder Norichika Aoki.

“We feel like our team is better. I like our team,” Moore said. “They’ve still got to go out and play and stay healthy. We’ll continue to look for ways to improve.”

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/pgrathoff.

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