Saturday, January 11, 2014

Reading between the lines regarding Dodgers' interest in Masahiro Tanaka

The plot thickens -- finally. It took a few months, but it seems the Dodger offseason might finally get interesting.

While the news isn't exactly concrete, it's more than we've really heard this winter so far. The Dodgers are officially interested in Masahiro Tanaka and may have already taken a meeting with the 25-year-old Japanese right-hander.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted out his bit of information on Friday:

After, he clarified his tweet:

Pretty typical of reporters these days. However, I'm not discouraged by the tweets. I'm actually excited.

I don't think the Dodgers will go "all-out" on Tanaka, especially having not extended Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez yet. But I do think they'll put forth a substantial bid for his services, whilst still working to lock up Kershaw and Ramirez.

Mike Petriello (MSTI) and Mark Saxon (ESPN LA) both wrote articles on Friday downplaying the Nightengale tweets. Bill Shakin (LA Times) referred to the article he wrote on Dec. 9 about the situation, stating in a tweet the Dodgers' interest remains the same -- "lukewarm."

I completely understand where Petriello is coming from, and I agree, for the most part. Saxon is quoting Stan Kasten, a man famous for saying a lot of words without saying anything -- a talent that takes years to perfect (and a talent that is completely expected). Shakin's taking the same stance he reported a month ago. A lot has chanced since then.

This is really the first substantial word of the Dodgers' interest in Tanaka, and I'm rolling with it.

One has to wonder, why is there such contradictory information being strewn about the Dodgers and Tanaka?

The Dodgers have been relatively quiet this offseason, and not a lot of news has leaked of their interest in particular players. Ever since word of the potential Kershaw extension before last season, information has been relatively sparse coming out of the Dodgers' camp.

It seems they've made a conscious effort to play things close to the vest. So, when information like this comes out, it means something.

Since Nightengale's tweet, the Dodgers have, predictably, downplayed their interest in Tanaka. But if the Dodgers wanted to regain control of the situation, it makes sense that they'd feed certain information to local reporters like Saxon and Shakin. This is purely speculation.

There's also this tweet from the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea:
Where there's smoke...

I acknowledge I could be a touch overzealous with this news, but with as quiet (and good) as the Dodgers' offseason has been, it seems a lot of this makes sense.

I really believe the Dodgers are interested in Tanaka, and have been all winter. They haven't made any big moves. They signed Dan Haren, which was good. They haven't traded for David Price -- something they could have done in November, if they really wanted to. They haven't, and not just because they want to keep the farm system in tact.

With the deadline for Tanaka to sign on the 24th (and make no mistake, he will sign), things should start heating up relatively soon. The Dodgers are in, and it's going to be a fun couple weeks.

Photo credit: Neier, Wikimedia Commons

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