Masahiro Tanaka, the Japanese pitcher who has been the subject of anticipation in the baseball world over what deal might be struck, declared that a deal has been agreed upon with the New York Yankees. He will not be playing another season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. He is now a Yankee, according to reports from ESPN. CBS reported that the 7-year deal is worth $155 million.
The Yankees did their homework and they spent a lot of time last year headhunting for this kind of raw talent. Tanaka was a priority for the New York franchise, enough to spend more than $150 million to secure for two-thirds of a decade.
Tanaka blasted through the Japanese championship to go 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA, enough to impress the likes of the Yankees, a top American MLB team, and other teams that had considered serious offers to the pitcher. The 25-year-old’s manager, Casey Close confirmed the deal with the Yankees Wednesday and talked to the press.
There is an opt out clause for Tanaka after four years, and the Yankees agreed to pay out the Golden Eagles a $20 million posting fee for snatching their star pitcher. The Yankees put out a lot of dough on the Japanese right-hander. It was reportedly the largest offer to a free agent pitcher in the American pro leagues. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs and other teams had also made offers, but the Yankees was the largest among them.
Tanaka declared a deal with the Yankees at just the right time. Under former rules, contracts would be won by teams that ultimately yielded higher payouts for the clubs than to the players. This time, however, the free agent Tanaka was able to secure a large deal with far less paid to the club he came from. He was offered the fifth largest of any pitcher, period.
Tanaka will be a top-of-the-rotation starter and the Yankees as a whole are in a process of structuring a complete team and retooling their pitching department. The Yankees also signed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, catcher Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, a powerhouse at batting. The total sum of contracts between Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran totaled nearly $440 million ABC News reported.
The Yankees previous pitching squadron was led by veterans and they missed their post season in 2013. That makes only twice since since 1995. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova are all working on some aspect of improvement for the season.
The Bleacher Report noted the social media reaction and buzz after the breaking news today about Tanaka’s deal. They noted the various skeptics that pointed out that many Japanese pitchers do not adjust well to the MLB game in the United States. Brian Sinkoff, a sports radio personality, tweeted on the news with more than a hint of distrust in the hype.
“I’m not sold on Japanese pitchers. For every Yu, there are 5 Igawa’s,” he tweeted just before 7:00 a.m. Tanaka finally declared a deal but with the Yankees, some might celebrate and some might protest this news.
By Rob Lawson