Masahiro Tanaka, 25 years old, has signed with the Yankees for $155 million dollars over 7 years, with an out after 4 years.
If Tanaka is nothing more than a mid-rotation, .500ish starter, $22 million a year is a sizable overpay, and it's unlikely he'll opt out at 29 to seek a pay raise.
If Tanaka can replicate or come close to Yu Darvish's numbers (9.6 WAR, 1.17 WHIP through 2 years), then he opts out after 4 and with the ever exploding MLB financial market (if the bubble hasn't burst), probably goes and gets $30+ million a year from the Yankees, or someone else.
With Tanaka off the market, and David Price likely staying in Tampa for the time being, the final smoldering embers of the starting pitching hot stove market will find their new, or old, homes.
No Number One starters, but a reasonable bet to be at least dependable starters for someone.
How does this affect the Tigers and Max Scherzer?
Two ways that I can see.
Seeing as the Yankees have committed nearly half a billion dollars this offseason to this year and future contracts, I have to believe that they're out of the running for Scherzer if he were to reach free agency. And when the Yankees aren't involved, even Scott Boras' Fort Knox-ish demands can be somewhat tempered.
The Yankees are typically the biggest of spenders, especially now that Arod is likely done, the equally powerful Red Sox have just $29 million committed for the '15 year. We can't forget the two teams who just lost out in the Tanaka sweepstakes, the Dodgers and Cubs, could be craving a top of the rotation arm they thought they could be securing in the Japanese import.
And of course, any other team that's willing to meet the gargantuan price tag Boras places on his Cy Young award winning client.
If I'm the Tigers, I'm trying to capitalize on any emotion of disappointment that the Dodgers and Cubs may be feeling presently. When you lose, sometimes some of your objectivity can escape you, and you're apt to make poor emotional decisions.
Recall my baseline for any Scherzer deal: one current mid-rotation starter, one other roster-able contributor and one top tier prospect, or a combination to meet that prospect. I CAN be flexible with this though, but replace Scherzer in the rotation immediately is a must have.
So, to the Dodgers first.
Kershaw, LOL, no. Greinke, uh, no. Haren, would they trade him after just signing him? If so, and he comes with his 2nd half of '13 OPS allowed of .636, then YES. Ryu, the Dodgers have to hang on to SOME cheap, quality players, right?
Beckett, may never pitch again. Billingsley is coming off TJ surgery. No and no.
Haren and top prospect (44th in MLB), outfielder Joc Pederson, plus an arm...? YES.
As doggedly as the Cubs supposedly pursued Tanaka, I can't see them being as ravenous for Scherzer, in a trade and possibly even in free agency. Franky, my risk would be placed with Tanaka, knowing I'm getting him in his prime athletic years, and the Yankees got him CHEAP, than in a 30 year old free agent, who'll never fashion '13s stats again.
The center of my interest in a transaction with the Cubs is Jeff Samardzija, who is either getting $6.2 or $4.4 million through arbitration this year, or getting extended as Kershaw did. He's got one more year of arbitration after that, and then is a free agent after the '15 season. There's been posturing for some time now on a long term deal, but clearly, nothing has developed, so Samardzija is constantly in trade rumors.
If Chicago were willing to deal for Scherzer AND offer him a deal large enough for Boras to have him shun free agency, Samardzija - whose stats look much better with Fangraph's xFIP factored in - and other pieces from the Cubs highly regardly farm system would be appealing.
The likelihood of any of these specifics happening, are probably slim. But trust me, today's Tanaka deal HAS rippled toward the Tiger's beach of Max Scherzer's present and future status in Detroit.
Remember, I'm the same guy that told you Prince Fielder wasn't immovable, and the only unstoppable force on that was not trying. I even responsibly offered the destination!
The same goes for Max. They don't have to actively or publically shop his services, but Dve Dombrowski can certainly proclaim 'we're willing to listen.'