The Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes will really begin -- slowly -- on Monday and could extend over the next three weeks until Tanaka makes his decision by the Jan. 24 deadline.

Even though the Yankees have the money and the desire, this isn't like the old days when they could automatically just outspend whomever they wanted.

There are several teams that could drive up the price on the Yankees or steal him away from them. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers are obvious teams that could go dollar-for-dollar with the Yankees.

But while all these three teams -- and dark-horse candidates, like the Arizona Diamondbacks -- could keep the 25-year-old Tanaka out of the Bronx, the team that is emerging as potentially the biggest threat is Robinson Cano's Seattle Mariners.

While the Yankees have a historical advantage over the Mariners, geography is on the Mariners' side and Iwakuma was a teammate of Tanaka with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Now, I don't know if they were good buddies or not, but if they were friendly, it could help the Mariners.

Ultimately, like nearly all of these transactions, it will come down to money and desire. The Yankees seem ready to fully abandon the $189 million goal, so there really doesn't seem to be any financial restraints.