It was a rumor that refused to go away. Somehow, despite everything in their history indicating otherwise, the Royals were still expected to be interested in Masahiro Tanaka. Dayton Moore refused to give a definitive answer one way or the other in terms of the Royals interest, and with a possible hole in the rotation, Tanaka would have made sense as a target. Factoring in that the $20 Million posting fee was refunded if Tanaka did not sign, and that the fee could be paid over two seasons, there appeared to be a way for the Royals to actually be involved in contract discussions.
Instead, Tanaka signed with the New York Yankees, inking a seven year, $155 Million contract with an opt-out clause after the fourth year. That deal gives Tanaka the fifth largest contract for any starting pitcher, and the largest ever for an international signing. Considering that he has never thrown a major league pitch, it is certainly a risk, although it is one that the Yankees felt they had to take.
Considering the contract that Masahiro Tanaka received, were the Royals really interested in acquiring his services? Five teams made contract offers to the Japanese righty, yet the Royals were not one of those clubs. When he traversed the country meeting with potential suitors, the Royals did not come up as one of those teams that Tanaka met with.
It is certainly possible that the Royals did have interest in signing Tanaka at one point, but learned early on that they would not be able to afford the type of contract that he was looking for. However, Moore continued to evade any definitive statements in regards to Tanaka, perhaps leading to the thought that the Royals were, in some way, still involved. If nothing else, that supposed interest may have helped to drive up Tanaka’s price a bit more, keeping him from the White Sox, who did make an offer.
We may never know what the Royals intentions were in regards to Masahiro Tanaka. If they remained linked to Tanaka just to put the thought in another team’s head that they could make him a contract and drive up his value, then that strategy may have worked. The only thing that is positive is that Tanaka is going to be calling the Bronx home for at least the next four seasons. The Royals may have actually had interest in him at one time, but we may never know for certain.