The Dodgers signed the starting pitcher they needed. His name just wasn’t Masahiro Tanaka. With having a mint to produce money called “FOX TV” as opposed to a budget, the Los Angeles Dodgers could have done whatever it takes to land the sought after Japanese ace. While the New York Yankees landed the right hander, the Dodgers already had their “back up” plan in place with the early off-season signing of fellow right hander Dan Haren. Haren just might be the most valuable pitching pickup of the off-season. With a very friendly contract to both Haren and the Dodgers of one year for $10 Million, Haren gets enough money to have solid expectations from the Dodgers. At the same time, the Dodgers get a better risk reward option than Tanaka’s 7 year $155 Million deal. If Haren pitches like he did the second half of last year (1.017 WHIP, 3.52 ERA, 5.00 K/BB) for the 2014 Dodgers, then the Dodgers will come out way ahead than if they would have signed Tanaka. Haren is a known Major League commodity. Tanaka has solid numbers coming out of the NPB (career 1.108 WHIP, 2.3 ERA, 4.5K/BB), but is completely unproven in the Major Leagues here in America. While no one knows what Tanaka will produce in the Major Leagues, we do know that any team would pay $10 Million for a pitcher with those types of numbers.
So what do the Dodgers do with the money they “saved” by not signing Tanaka? The most probable outcome is signing Hanley Ramirez for the foreseeable future. The Dodgers do not want to get into a bidding war for Hanley; it’s not that they don’t have the money, it’s that they don’t have to. Ramirez and the Dodges have now crossed the threshold of their honeymoon phase; they just had a huge turnaround with each other, not to mention Hanley’s career seems to be back on track, both health wise and performance wise. The Dodgers are relevant again in more than just their historic name. Hanley is surrounded by energetic, Latin teammates and other big name stars that take the focus off of him that may have resulted in a poor attitude and performance with the Marlins in Miami.
Hanley is currently atop all MLB shortstops for current annual salary at $16 Million per year and is tied with Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes. One year after Robinson Cano established a new standard for Middle Infielder contracts, Hanley Ramirez is in the middle of his prime and set for a big pay day. Hanley’s shortstop counterparts are signed through 2017 (Reyes) and 2020 (Tulowitzki), and were signed before their prime started. What does all this translate to for the Dodgers and Hanley? More than likely a six to eight year contract with an annual salary of $18 - $22 Million.
If you think about it, is what landed Tanaka with the Yankees only benefited Los Angeles. So overall, the Dodgers didn’t lose out by not signing Tanaka. The team has an abundance of options and an abundance of money to continue their winning ways from last season.