Rakuten Golden Eagles Spending Their Masahiro Tanaka Money Already

You have to give NPB’s Rakuten Golden Eagles credit — after being forced to accept a posting fee of only one-third of what they would have received a year ago for Masahiro Tanaka, they have not wasted any time trying to replace the best player in Japanese baseball so the team can vie for another Pacific League pennant in 2014.

The Golden Eagles have been spreading around the Tanaka posting fee money to foreign players this off-season.  After losing Casey McGehee, last year’s 3Bman, to the Miami Marlins, the Golden Eagles threw $4 million plus another $1 million in performance bonuses at veteran major league star Kevin Youkilis.  The Golden Eagles also re-signed Andruw Jones on a one-year 400 million yen ($3.81 million) deal, signed veteran NPB relief ace Brian Falkenborg away from the much wealthier SoftBank Hawks for 200 million yen ($1.91 million), and signed recent major leaguer Travis Blackley for another 200 million yen.

Whether throwing $10 million at foreign players keeps Rakuten at the top of NPB’s Pacific League in 2014 remains to be seen.  Youkilis, Falkenborg, and Jones will be 35, 36 and 37 years old respectively next season.  Youkilis’ ability to stay healthy at this point in his career is an open question, and it’s unlikely both Falkenborg and Jones will play as well as they did last season given their ages.

I like the Blackley signing the best.  Australians like playing in Japan, if only because they are much closer to home and are used to playing professionally abroad.  Blackley recently turned age 31, and he was a creditable major league pitcher the last two seasons.  The odds seem good to me that he’ll be successful in NPB next season.

If nothing else, the Golden Eagles have given their fans something to be excited about in 2014 in spite of the loss of the irreplaceable Masahiro Tanaka.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Baseball Abroad, Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees

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