Tanaka is 99-35 in his seven year career in the Japan Leagues, 34-4 the past two seasons. He is 25 years old. Wherever Tanaka finally ends up he will adjust to the big leagues, and then begin to be a top of the rotation starting pitcher.
From 2008-2011 Dontrelle Willis played for Detroit, Arizona, and Cincinnati posting a 6-18 record and a 1.814 WHIP. In 2013 he played for the Long Island Ducks (Atlantic League) and the LA Angels Triple A team, the Salt Lake Bees.
Willis' three year stint with Detroit cost the Tigers over $29 million. He is 32 years old this month.
The San Francisco Giants front office quickly put out that Willis' signing is a "no risk" proposition. Which is the exactly the same message they quickly put out in 2010, the last time they signed Willis to a minor league deal that didn't work out.
But there actually is a big risk here– much bigger than just money. It's about where this franchise is heading.
The Giants organization continues to substitute a series of player reclamation projects for actual player development, for quality free agent signings, and for big name trades. So all the "no risk"-type signings become a smoke and mirrors distraction for fans and the media, invariably ending up with "no gain."
Two headlines on the same day about two teams– one taking risks so they can win baseball games and make the 2014 post season, and one patting themselves on the back for making yet another "no risk" player acquisition.