PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Diamondbacks took on the big boys of Major League Baseball in the competition to land Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka only to see him sign, hardly to anyone's surprise, with the New York Yankees.
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers, speaking to a handful of reporters in a conference call on Wednesday, thanked the team's ownership for allowing him, for what he said was the first time, to "sit at the table in a high stakes poker game for one of the elite free agents."
Towers said the Diamondbacks made "a very competitive offer."
But not competitive enough. The 25-year-old right-hander's deal with the Yankees pays him $155 million over seven years, in addition to the $20 million due as a posting fee to his Japanese club.
Now Towers moves on in search, via free agency or a trade, of help for the Diamondbacks' rotation, seeking either a No. 1 starter or a strong No. 2. And, he said, those are hard to find.
The Diamondbacks contingent of managing partner Ken Kendrick, Towers, manager Kirk Gibson and star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt met with Tanaka and his entourage about three weeks ago.
"All you can do is put your best foot forward, which is what we did," Towers said.
The Diamondbacks emphasized their family atmosphere, the weather, the fact that the team trains in Arizona. Tanaka would have been the unquestioned No. 1 pitcher on the staff.