In baseball pitching wins championships. While it sounds cliche it is true. If you look around the major leagues, all the great franchises have great pitching. This causes talented pitchers to be coveted and overvalued when they hit the open market, and Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka is the latest example of this.
After months of speculation the 25-year-old phenom has officially been posted, and is expected to land a long-term deal that pays him at least $17 million per season, along with the $20 million release fee the team that signs him has to pay.
Last season the righty completely dominated in Japan going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings, and in his seven years playing professionally he has gone 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA, while averaging almost a strikeout per inning.
Although those are impressive numbers, he has thrown more innings at a young age than anyone in baseball has in the past 35 years, as he has pitched in 1,315 innings throughout his young career. Japanese pitchers are also know for having bigger workloads, and after a few seasons performing in the major leagues they tend to break down. In fact out of the 11 Japanese born pitchers who have made 25 MLB starts, only Hideo Nomo and Hiroki Kuroda were able to reach that number three or more times.
These two statistics alone are reasons to be concerned, plus he has never faced a lineup anywhere near the level he will be facing in the majors on a consistent bases.
Signing any pitcher is a risk, but Tanaka seems to have more question marks surrounding him than most others usually do. While signing a top of the rotation pitcher to a huge deal is not uncommon in today's age, signing someone who has no MLB experience and some miles on his shoulder is. Baseball is a game of risks, but signing Tanaka to a major deal worth at least $17 million per season is a risk that will never live up to the reward.