Huge news in the past couple of weeks regarding the newest Japanese player to be posted for MLB teams to sign. Masahiro Tanaka is expected to garner a record contract in coming over from the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, mainly because of his crazy sinker that is borderline unhittable. After performing well against international competition, as well as the fact that so many teams need starting pitchers, this is going to be big. Not just for the league, but also for the hobby.
Check out some of the prices his existing stuff is getting:
When Yu Darvish came over in 2012, his cards were immediately the top draw of the year, alongside Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. They are still considerably valuable with 2 years of top production under his belt. Same thing with other Japanese import players:
The bottom line is that international players from Japan ALWAYS sell. Baseball is a growing market overseas, so much so that Topps has already started producing Asia exclusive lines for their products. As a result of the growing interest in cards to match the growing interest in the sport, homegrown players have reached enormous heights, even if the player doesn’t produce at top levels over in the US.
When reviewing the recent posted players, there are as many failures as there are successes, if we can even deem them as such at this point. The biggest factor is that the attention they receive, combined with the card companies doing everything in their power to ensure there is supply to meet the demand. Considering that demand is inherent, im curious to see what Topps, Panini and Leaf can do to work out a deal for autographs with Tanaka’s people.
Topps fought hard to get Darvish to sign, and as mentioned above, his cards have been doing exceptionally well. Upper Deck faced the same situation with Daisuke Matsuzaka, eventually securing a deal that got him into products late in the season. Like Tanaka will, Matsuzaka ended up with a team in a huge market, only further extending the need for his cards. Dice-K has been a relative disaster, but like the other Japanese players, his cards still sell!
Lets just hope he lives up to the hype similar to the way Darvish has.