The Sure-Fire Way To Get Masahiro Tanaka Signed
With Robinson Cano, it was pretty easy. A big market didn’t exist, and Cano’s previous employer didn’t show enough desire to keep him around, and Cano, in the end, just wanted to be wanted. Wanted and made to be super rich. So the Mariners just waltzed on up, promised Cano a quarter of everything they had, and there was a deal. Quickly, far more quickly than anyone imagined, the Mariners got a free-agent Cano locked down.
It’s going to be more tricky with Masahiro Tanaka. Lots of teams want Tanaka. Everybody wants Tanaka. He’s just the right blend of talented, young, and mysterious. The market realistically couldn’t be bigger, so it’s not like the Mariners can position themselves as Tanaka’s only good option. But the Mariners want Tanaka, and kind of need him, in the sense that they’d like to win in 2014. It would be a hell of a challenge for the Mariners to get Tanaka to pick them over the competition. But thankfully everything they need to know about how to proceed they can learn from VH1’s The Pickup Artist.
Open a set
The Mariners need to arrange for a face-to-face meeting. They should go through Tanaka’s agent, and request the presence of his wife and any other associates. At no point should the Mariners reveal the purpose of the meeting, even if it seems obvious on the surface.
Every baseball team that engages in a meeting is represented by guys in expensive suits and polo shirts. The Mariners need to zig where others zag, since, after all, the purpose is to stand out. The Mariners’ representatives should leave the suits and polos and sweater-vests at home. They should wear jerseys, flashy jerseys, with hats and various accessories of some intrigue. Any amount of captured interest is captured interest.
False time constraint
Right away, the Mariners should say they don’t have real long, because they have to get to other important pieces of business. It’ll convey that they have other important business, and it’ll help the other parties feel like they won’t be sitting around all day. It’ll make the meeting seem more “breezy”.
For much of the first part of the meeting, the Mariners should all but ignore Masahiro Tanaka entirely. They should engage the others in conversation, and recite lighthearted, rehearsed storytelling to make them feel at ease. At one point Jack Zduriencik should take a phone call and say, “sorry, one minute, it’s Ervin’s agent.” He should talk for at least 12 minutes.
When the Mariners do begin actually speaking with Tanaka himself, one of the things someone should say is, “seems like you have good stuff. Almost as good as Ubaldo’s.”
As conversational chemistry with Tanaka builds, Mariners representatives should make sure to exchange several high-fives and fist-bumps with him. A good idea might be to demonstrate the sorts of elaborate dugout high-fives that are popular in the American game today. This will begin to establish a physical connection, and that, in turn, will help develop trust.
This is all about getting inside Tanaka’s head, without his even realizing it. As the Mariners talk about the benefits of playing stateside, for each they should designate a specific gesture signal. Then, later, as the Mariners are talking about their own organization and future, they should roll out the same subtle gesture signals. Tanaka will subconsciously link benefits with the Mariners franchise.
Indicators of interest
As the meeting continues, the Mariners will be focused on getting things done before they stand back up. But before they move in for the close, they need to wait to observe at least three indicators of interest from Tanaka. This could be initiating another high-five sequence, or leaning in closer to the table, or breaking a pause in conversation, or asking specific questions about what it would be like to be a Japanese superstar in a Mariners uniform down the road. Once there are at least three IOI, Tanaka’s heavy interest will be confirmed.
The Mariners don’t leave without a signed contract. After the observation of sufficient IOI, the Mariners should begin negotiating contract terms, reassuring Tanaka that he’s not going to find a better situation or a more supportive partner. Tanaka will agree and proceed, because he will have become intrigued by the Mariners, and because he would have developed a connection with them unlike any connection he might have developed with another front office. The Mariners will thus have their man, in ink, and their corresponding significant boost in playoff odds. It literally can’t not work.