The Tanaka sweepstakes are over. Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees have agreed to a seven-year, $155 million deal, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal includes an opt-out after year four, Rosenthal notes. Tanaka's contract is the fifth-largest for a pitcher ever, following the contracts of Kershaw, Verlander, Hernandez (Felix), and Sabathia.
One of the biggest names on the free agent market, Tanaka originally received interest from "more than a dozen clubs." Now with the new posting rules, any team could have offered Tanaka a contract, changing it from the "exclusive rights" as teams have had with players in the past. Just this past week, Tanaka named his finalists for the signing, saying that the Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, and Diamondbacks all had the best chances to sign him.
This move makes a ton of sense for the New York Yankees. Although they have to pay $175 million (includes $20 million posting fee), it should definitely be worth it. Their rotation needs work; C.C. Sabathia has regressed, Hiroki Kuroda is another year older, and Pettitte and Hughes are gone. Even with all those pieces, the Yankees rotation still posted the 13th-worst ERA in the Major Leagues in 2013. Tanaka should be an anchor there.
One thing the Yankees wanted to do this offseason was attempt to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. Before the contract, Baseball Reference noted that the current Yankee payroll stood at $170.5 million. Signing Tanaka at $22 million per year shoots them up to $192.5 million, a good $3 million above the luxury tax.
Tanaka is worth it. In his 2013 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka did not lose. The ace went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and a 0.943 WHIP in 212 innings pitched. These numbers include a SO/9 of 7.8, a BB/9 of 1.4, and a HR/9 of 0.3. Tanaka does not try and strike hitters out; instead he tries just to get them out. That should be a huge key to his Major League success in the big apple.
The signing of Masahiro Tanaka should open the flood gates for other Major League signings. Since his posting, rumors for the top talent out there, such as Matt Garza, Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ervin Santana have been completely silent. The focus will now turn to them, as we have an exciting Hot Stove season ahead of us.