For most of us the shopping season has come and gone.
For the Arizona Diamondbacks there’s still one big present they’re hoping makes an overseas arrival in the coming weeks.
There are just over two weeks left for MLB teams to court Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka and the D-backs according to many, including ESPN baseball insider Pedro Gomez, are one of the front-runners to land the services of the 25-year-old right-hander who went 24-0 last year with a 1.27 ERA.
“I think they do,” Gomez told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a recent phone interview. “The Diamondbacks, I’ve been told, are in the mix. That doesn’t mean they’ll get him, of course. But they are in it. There might be some things that he would look at in Arizona and say that might be a good fit for me.”
Gomez believes Tanaka may not need to land in a large Asian-Japanese market like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle and may prefer somewhere like the Valley where he can lead a more low-key lifestyle. He also wouldn’t want to “share the stage” and sign with a team like the Texas Rangers who already have their own Japanese ace in Yu Darvish.
“It would allow him to concentrate on pitching,” he said. “From everything I’ve heard he’s a hard worker who loves his craft and puts everything into it so he wouldn’t be pulled in different directions if he were [in Phoenix]. Plus, he would come to [Arizona] and immediately be the ace of the staff. He would be the number one guy opening day.”
The signing would also bring worldwide attention to franchise, much like the Rangers have seen with Darvish, and a boost at the box office each time Tanaka was scheduled to start.
“I think you’d see a spike in attendance on the days he would pitch,” Gomez explained. “There is a curiosity and there is something about somebody coming from somewhere else and taking the game by storm. If Tanaka is able to do that, absolutely, there would be benefits who whoever signs him.”