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The Yankees sign Masahiro Tanaka to a $155 million deal

Jan 22, 2014, 9:53 AM EST

And now, the big news we’ve been waiting for:

The Yankees officially announced the Tanaka signing this afternoon.

Many, including this writer, assumed the Dodgers were the front-runners. But that’s what one gets for assuming. The Yankees, of course, have always been mentioned as a strong possibility as well. New York provides a huge platform, the Yankees have deep pockets and, of course, Tanaka’s agent Casey Close is also Derek Jeter‘s agent, providing a long track record of business dealings between him and the Yankees brass.

This puts to an end the Yankees’ alleged goal of getting the payroll below $189 million and thus avoiding luxury tax payments. But that’s Hal Steinbrenner’s problem, not Yankees’ fans. More important to them is that the Yankees now have a front line starter to go along with CC Sabathia at the top of the rotation. If Tanaka can come anywhere close to approximating his work in Japan and if Sabathia regains his old form, the Yankees’ 1-2 punch will be hard to match.

As for what he did in Japan: a 99-35 record with a 2.35 ERA and 1,238 strikeouts against 275 walks in 1,315 innings pitched across seven seasons. In 2013 he was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and a 183/32 K/BB ratio in 212 innings, leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles to the NPB World Series title.

225 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. cjvirnig - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Why do we keep talking about CC Sabathia as if maybe he’ll bounce back in 2014 and be the pitcher we’ve always known? The due will turn 34 during the upcoming season and that arm has thrown a ton of pitches. In many ways, he’s like the Kobe Bryant of MLB: he’s not necessarily that old, but he’s been around so long that natural decline is imminent.

    As for Tanaka, I can only guess that his reasoning with signing with the Yankees stems from the fact that they are the team that needs him the most. The Dodgers would have loved to have him, but they hardly need him with Kershaw and Greinke atop the rotation. The Yankees, on the other hand, absolutely DID need him.

    • Arods Other Doctor - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      I don’t see the Sabathia ever having an ERA below 3.5 again. If you want to win a championship I can’t see him being any better than a pretty good number 2 starter. I would put him 4th or 5th in the Cardinals rotation but they are absurd.

      But don’t forget, with how awesome the Yankees offense is, they don’t really need pitching anyway.

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:15 PM

        you sound like a Expos fan.

      • edaviles - Jan 22, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        Actually I don’t think the offense is that great that we don’t need pitching. We’ll see though. Pitching wins championships.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      you better go take the garbage out like your wife told you and stop posting nonsense.

    • dan1111 - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      It is a little too soon to proclaim that Sabathia is done. He had one bad season.

      • bigharold - Jan 22, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Lets keep it perspective, he had one mediocre season. I’m betting he’ll bounce back fine. But, time will tell.

    • edaviles - Jan 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      CC has some left in the tank still. 20 game winner? Perhaps but only because he will be the no 2 maybe 3 starter and so he’ll have a lesser pitcher to go up against. Completely agree though, the Yankees needed Tanaka the most which is why I can see the reasoning behind overpaying for him though not by much. However, keep this in mind. And this is mind boggling; if his ERA goes up 80% from what it was last year (1.27) it would still be 2.29. With that Yankee offense, though not great, he will win a lot of games. He could very well be a 20+ game winner.

      • cackalackyank - Jan 22, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        All should be well as long as he doesn’t start throwing a lot of fly balls.

  2. ejannetta - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    I wish people would stop comparing Tanaka to Darvish…Darvish is not a true Japanese pitcher as he is half Japanese as his father is Iranian.

    • dan1111 - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      Darvish pitched in the same league as Tanaka, which makes him an excellent comparison. His ethnicity is, frankly, irrelevant.

      • ejannetta - Jan 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        My point is that people are calling Darvish Japanese and he really isn’t.

      • zemongoose - Jan 22, 2014 at 6:38 PM

        99.9% of the time you would be absolutely correct. Where this is the exception is that Darvish, in part due to his genes, has a physical build that is more akin to the MLB pitching prototype. Tanaka’s build is smaller and more akin the the typical Japanese pitcher. Long story short, Darvish’s build gives him an advantage in regards to having and sustaining success at the MLB level.

        When you factor in the posting fee, the Yankees are giving Tanaka King Felix money. Given their need for pitching and their willingness to spend, I’m not ripping the deal, but there is more than a little risk involved here.

      • dan1111 - Jan 23, 2014 at 4:54 AM

        @zemongoose, a pitcher’s body type is not very relevant when they have already compiled a long track record of success.

        Here is detailed research that finds no correlation between height and future pitcher performance or durability: http://sabr.org/research/does-pitcher-s-height-matter

        Tanaka is listed as 6′ 2″, 205 lb so he is well within the range of typical major league starters anyway.

  3. apkyletexas - Jan 22, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    $22 million a year for four years worth of a guy who nobody knows if he will have success in MLB.

    Brilliant.

    Hey Yanks – when you are done screwing this up a year-and-a-half from now, can you trade him plus a boatload of cash to my Pirates like you did with AJ Burnett???

  4. @Cereal_22 - Jan 22, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Half a billion in contracts spent by the Yanks this offseason, so much for that whole competitive balance thing…..and the schedule remains unbalanced. Then there’s the steroid era,,,,thats for the memories Bud

  5. @Cereal_22 - Jan 22, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    Thanks for the memories Bud I meant to say…

  6. csbanter - Jan 22, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    MLB need the Yankees to be in the mix every year. Ratings and more importantly social buzz are down when the bombers are not contenders. MLB has lost a lot of ground to the NFL. The RedSox don’t ignite the masses as well as NYY .

    • zemongoose - Jan 22, 2014 at 7:29 PM

      No they don’t. With Jeter near the end and Cano in Seattle there won’t be a solitary Yankee legend in uniform except for oldtimers games.

      The Dodgers can easily pick up big market team with $$$ mantle. BTW, MLB is in the greatest financial position it’s ever been in. While the NFL is more popular than MLB (and has been for a long time), the CTE issue is going to eventually force radical changes to how the game is played. Who even knows if football will even be viable at the pro level in 20 years.

  7. braxtonrob - Jan 23, 2014 at 3:34 AM

    Wow, that’s one star-studded team … that’s going to (surprisingly) suck.

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