After months of speculation and competition, the team who may have expressed interest first is the team who ended up with the prized Japanese import. The Yankees, long rumored to be in on the righty, signed Masahiro Tanaka to a seven year, $155 million dollar contract on Wednesday morning.
Reportedly, the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Dodgers and Yankees were in on it in the end, with the Red Sox and Astros watching from afar, but it was New York who created an ideal scenario for the highly touted pitcher. The deal includes an opt out after four years, meaning Tanaka will pitch in the Bronx until he is at least 29-years-old.
From everything we have heard about Tanaka, he seemed to prefer a big market, big lights, big money and the west coast. Evidently, one of those things was negotiable and everything else seemed to fall into place.
For the pitcher, it’s a big market and a chance for him to take another continent by storm. His massive contract sets him up for life and his opt out allows him to pursue even more money if he turns into an elite pitcher. The alternative is staying in New York for another three years at large money.
For the Yankees, though a much bigger deal than perhaps anyone anticipated in November, they got their man. Tanaka was on the Yankees’ radar from the second the 2013 season ended and they mostly operated quietly throughout the process. Tanaka has the upside of a front-end starter, possibly becoming a solid number two starter in the AL East for the future.
That’s what the Yankees are hoping for with the contract. With CC Sabathia coming off a down year and Hiroki Kuroda in what could be his final season, New York now has a high caliber arm in its mid 20’s. The Yankees can build around: Sabathia, Tanaka and Nova (should he stay consistent) and hope some of their farm system arms can round out the rotation in the future.
This season, the Yankees’ rotation now seems set. Kuroda, Sabathia and Tanaka will lead the charge in some order with Nova and a combination of: Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren likely the front runners for the fifth spot.