Jays wanted Tanaka, wouldn’t exceed five years


Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston (AP).

The Toronto Blue Jays were in on Masahiro Tanaka, but stopped when the bidding for the Japanese right-hander exceeded five years, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports.

The New York Yankees eventually signed the 25-year-old to a seven-year, $155-million contract that includes a player opt-out clause and a no-trade clause. The deal, which sets a record for Japanese players in MLB, includes a $20-million release fee from the Yankees to Tanaka’s former team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

The Blue Jays have a club policy of not signing free agents to deals that exceed five years, though GM Alex Anthopoulos indicated last month that the Blue Jays could make a six-year offer under the right circumstances.

“We’ve said ‘six, will you bend a little,’ I think we haven’t ruled it out,” Anthopoulos said at the MLB Winter Meetings. “Our preference is certainly five. We’ve never had to deviate from that.”

Even if the Blue Jays miss out on some free agents, the club policy stands.

“There’s no question that if you limit yourself, there’s just some guys that aren’t going to be available to you,” Anthopoulos continued. “You can’t deny that. But I think if you look at all of the examples, in the long run you’re probably going to be better off.”

After missing out on Tanaka, the Blue Jays are expected to check in on free agents such as Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza — the top arms available on the open market.

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