The unavoidable could not be avoided. The inescapable could not be escaped. The undeniable could not be denied. Yes, Masahiro Tanaka is now officially a member of the New York Yankees as was long believed to be the inevitable conclusion to this saga. Most importantly, this means that Masahiro Tanaka is not an Angel.
Tanaka was seen as a potential savior to the Angel rotation, as he was for so many other teams, when this all began. Yet, the Angels self-admittedly never got deeply involved in the bidding and declined to make a formal offer to the Japanese hurler. In so doing, they passed on an opportunity to land a high-impact young arm.
You know what? That's OK.
From a sheer talent standpoint, the Halos would clearly be better off with Tanaka. That's pretty obvious. But by not even seriously getting mixed up in the high stakes bidding process, the Angels may have demonstrated something rarely seen around these parts the last few years: discretion and restraint.
The Angels of winters past would have gotten bogged down in the Tanaka bidding until the bitter end. There would have been a very strong possibility that Arte Moreno would have been overcome by his annual impulse to throw his dick down on the table to show the rest of the league how big it is by once again picking up Dipoto's puppet strings and making him offer Tanaka a massive amount of money, long-term consequences be damned.
But they didn't do that. The surveyed the Tanaka landscape and decided this wasn't going to go a way that they liked and bowed out early. It was a remarkably rational reaction, the kind I hope becomes commonplace.
Sure enough, the Yankees were the ones giving Tanaka a gigantic $155 million contract, one that includes an out-clause after four years, virtually guaranteeing that he will hit free agency quicker than they hoped if he so much as comes within spitting distance of the pitcher most think he can be. If he turns into a bust, the Yankees are stuck with him for seven years and no recourse. That could've been the Angels. In the long run, it is better that it isn't them even if there was a very alluring short-term benefit to be reaped.
Now, the Angels just need to prove that they can continue to act in savvy fashion. Having missed out on Tanaka, the Halos must resist the urge to panic. Panic moves are how things like Vernon Wells happen. Instead, they need to continue to act rationally. Pursue Matt Garza, but only to a certain point. If the D'Backs are the ones that panic in the wake of their Tanaka miss and throw crazy numbers at Garza, well, they can go ahead and have him. Also, don't renege on that oft-repeated promise to not sign a free agent that costs them their first round pick. Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are going to start looking more and more attractive as the first day of Spring Training approaches, but only in the way that girl who is really a 4 starts to look like an 8 when you realize the bar is about to close.
None of this means that the Halos are fine to stand pat. This still doesn't appear to be a roster that is a certain World Series contender. More work is needed. They just need to keep going about it smartly to make this whole prolonged wait worth it and to avoid turning themselves into hypocrites for crying poverty on Tanaka only to spend recklessly elsewhere.
I'm pretty sure they can avoid that.
I think they can avoid that.
I hope they can avoid.