A look at the pending Tanaka signing and how it might impact the Orioles (Tanaka to NYY)

Hey, Masahiro Tanaka, could you please make a decision soon so the rest of the teams in baseball can get on with their lives?

I’m sure he didn’t intend to hold up the works, but since the new posting process began around Christmas for the 25-year-old Japanese right-hander, not much else has happened in baseball.

Remember the flurry of activity with signings even before the Winter Meetings? This would be the opposite and it sure appears that players, agents and teams are waiting for Tanaka to pick a team so they can get on with things.

Right now, some key free agents remain out there, including Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, Kendrys Morales, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney. Some are tied to draft pick compensation, which is also a deterrent for several clubs, it seems. The Orioles have indicated they are at least open to signing a player that would cost them a pick.

What will this mean for the Orioles in their pursuit of pitching? It could be problematic if a team that loses out on Tanaka now turns its attention to a pitcher the O’s may want, like say Arroyo or A.J. Burnett. Then again, there may be teams that really want Tanaka, but will pass on the other pitchers due to the price.

The rumored final five for Tanaka are the Cubs, White Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, and some think Houston may be in the mix. There has been little information available on the Tanaka talks and that is the way the player and his agent wanted it.

This winter we’ve seen Ricky Nolasco get $49 million from Minnesota, Jason Vargas get $32 million from Kansas City and Scott Feldman get $30 million from Houston. At 41, Bartolo Colon got a two-year, $20 million deal from the Mets that may actually look good compared to many other deals.

Of course, the largest contracts signed by pitchers in recent years were not even free agent deals. Justin Verlander signed a seven-year, $180 million deal last winter with Detroit and Los Angeles just blew all deals out of the water, signing Clayton Kershaw to a seven-year contract worth $215 million for an average annual value of $30.7 million.

I actually don’t think that deal will impact the current free agent pitchers. Kershaw and Verlander are in a different class and their greatness and huge pay rate should not boost the salary of a just above-average pitcher. Then again, we are talking about baseball salaries and we’ve all been shocked before.

All of this talk of pitchers and money and where will it take the Orioles? Will they actually finally get a pitcher that will please their fans? Has their inability to add a pitcher to this point been tied to the Tanaka negotiations and will that all change soon?

This article from USA Today predicts that of the remaining free agents, the Orioles will sign Arroyo to a two-year, $20 million deal and that they’ll add closer Fernando Rodney to a two-year deal worth $16 million. The story also predicts that Balfour will end up as a Yankee.

So where does it all end with the free agent pitching and will the O’s have a chair when the music ends?

Yankees get Tanaka: Well, the Orioles will be getting a good look at Tanaka after he signed a seven-year deal worth $155 million with the New York Yankees. It is the fifth-richest contract ever for a pitcher.

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