The Philadelphia Phillies, especially under General Manager Ruben Amaro, are known for making big splashes in terms of their pitching rotation. Whether it was trading for Cy Young winner Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays, signing another CY winner in Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million deal before the 2011 season, or re-signing ace Cole Hamels to a $144 million deal in 2012, Amaro has always had a flare for the dramatic. Just this past season, he signed Cuban starter Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million deal.
That is what makes the recent news from MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that the Fightins have spoken to Masahiro Tanaka‘s agent about the well sought-after Japanese starter all the more interesting.
With several teams in pursuit of Tanaka, it’s hard to say whether the Phillies are legitimately interested or just doing their due diligence with possibly the top starter to come out of Japan. In 2013, he was 24-0 with an ERA of 1.27, with an impressive 6-1 K:BB ratio in the Japanese Nippon Baseball League. He features a devastating splitter that looks like his low-90s fastball from the get-go but drops off of a cliff as it approaches the plate.
Given the amount of loaded contracts they have to bear, many would have put the Phillies out of the running for Tanaka, but their recent TV deal with Comcast, reported at $2.5 billion, is making many second-think that logic. Amaro and president David Montgomery have shown they are not shy about spending money on starting pitching, and a staff of Hamels, Lee, MAG, and Tanaka would be among the best, if not the best, in the MLB.