Masahiro Tanaka, the Japanese wonder-pitcher who has been linked with a host of Major League Baseball sides, has returned to his native country having apparently met with around 12 teams.
Japanese media have reported that Tanaka ventured back to Asia from Los Angeles earlier this week. He landed at Tokyo’s Narita airport on Saturday, and headed straight for his car without speaking to any members of the press.
The 25-year-old right handed pitcher is believed to have had a meeting scheduled with the New York Yankees and his agent, Casey Close, planned. However no details have emerged over whether it actually took place.
There is currently a cloud of secrecy over Tanaka’s expected destination, with reports previously suggesting that he had undergone a physical in Los Angeles last week.
Tanaka is coveted because of his spell-binding season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles last year, which saw him go 24-0.
However, several Major League Baseball sides apparently hold some trepidation about signing Tanaka though, as they believe that his excessive workload in Japan might have hindered his ability.
Because of this dilemma clubs aren’t sure whether or not he is actually worth the $20 million posting fee that they will need to pay the Eagles. Also, whoever actually lands Tanaka will have to pay him a contract which will likely be in excess of $100 million too.
Tanaka is allegedly only interested in signing with one of baseball’s biggest teams, because his wife is interested in developing her celebratory status in the United States.
At the moment, the Chicago White Sox are the only team to have confirmed that they have met with Tanaka, however a dozen other sides have been linked to the pitcher.
On Thursday, the White Sox released a statement that confirmed that their Executive Vice President, Ken Williams, General Manager, Rick Hahn, and manager, Robin Ventura, were present at the meeting.
Hahn said in the statement, “The meeting was exploratory in nature. It was an opportunity for us to sit down with Masahiro and discuss how he potentially fits our vision for the Chicago White Sox for the next several seasons. Out of respect for Mr. Tanaka’s decision-making process, the White Sox will have no further comment on the status of any additional conversations until he makes his final decision public.”
Earlier this year, the New York Yankees became the first team to officially announce their intention to sign Tanaka while the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and possibly a few more are also still pining for the athlete.