Sox 'have had discussions' with Japanese pitcher Tanaka

Sox 'have had discussions' with Japanese pitcher Tanaka
January 22, 2014, 8:00 am
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BOSTON - By most industry accounts, the Red Sox have not been among the most aggressive teams in pursuit of Japanese free agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
     
It's widely believed that Tanaka will likely sign with either the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees, with the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks also thought to be in the running.
     
But with a decision due later this week -- Tanaka has until Friday at 5 p.m. to decide which team he's signing with or return to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, his Japanese team -- general manager Ben Cherington addressed the team's interest for the first time Tuesday night.
     
"Since the process isn't over," said Cherington, who was at Fenway for a Hot Stove, Cool Music charity event, "it's hard to say much about it. Once it became clear that he was essentially a free agent, we had done all the work we needed to do on him, scouting him and getting to know him personally last summer and even before that.
     
"So we were prepared to be involved and then it was just a question of the parameters that we thought made sense for us. We don't know what the outcome of the process is yet; I guess we'll all know by the end of the week."
     
Cherington would confirm that the Red Sox "have had discussions" with either Tanaka or his agent Casey Close, or both.
     
"Out of respect to him and his representatives," said Cherington, "and the process they're going through, I just don't think it's right for me to say much more than that. We respect him as a pitcher certainly, respect the process he's going through to try to make a decision. We'll all know more by the end of the week."
     
It's possible that Tanaka's signing elsewhere could jump-start trade talks for the Red Sox, who have six proven starting pitchers and only have room for five.
     
"You never know," said Cherington. "But we're not expecting any significant movement in the form of a trade. We're not expecting that. I think we feel good about where we are, the players we have and we're just focused on getting ready for spring training."