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Why Tanaka chose the Yankees

Jan 23, 2014, 6:40 AM EDT

Masahiro Tanaka

I’d guess it was the money and the years, but here’s what he said in his press conference yesterday:

“They gave me the highest evaluation and are a world-famous team.” Tanaka said at a press conference in Japan on Jan. 23 after agreeing to a $155 million, seven-year deal with the Yankees.

I would assume (as does the Associated Press which ran that quote) that it means that the Yankees appreciated him the most and gave him that impression during meetings. But I’d be curious how the communications outside the contract figures go in such conversations. Do teams tell the player how they actually evaluate him, what they project him to do in the majors? Is that the runup to justify the contract offer? I feel like any specificity on that score would be weird — “we think you’ll win 16 games and strike out 178 batters. No [erases some numbers, punches calculator buttons] 179.”

Normally here I’d say “no, it was so totally the money,” but you do have to wonder how much cache the Yankees logo and history have for foreign players. When I think of Japanese baseball I almost always think of the Yomiuri Giants first and foremost. I’d almost certainly take the best offer if I was shopping myself around, but the Giants do stand out in my mind and based on my limited knowledge of NPB baseball. I dunno.


  1. snitor - Jan 23, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    • commanderrobot - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      did people even watch the youtube video? one of my favorite albums that i bought during high school. i laughed immediately when i saw it.

      • snitor - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        Don’t know. It was a joke, I figured only a few people would like it and laugh. Glad some did.

    • pjmarn6 - Jan 28, 2014 at 8:03 PM

      Finally Dinky Duck says some honest things: “I dunno”…he didn’t bother attending the Tanaka press conference as he refers to “Associated Press Quote” meaning he wasn’t there to here the whole press conference and finally…..the big one…………..:based on my limited knowledge of NPB baseball. What does NPB mean?

      Can’t MSNBC come up with a legitimate intelligent baseball reporter that “WILL” attend important press conference, know what he should be reporting on and have an unlimited knowledge of all types of baseball?

      This dinky duck, acts like he is s 4th grader handing in a late book report.

      • pjmarn6 - Jan 28, 2014 at 8:04 PM


  2. tuberippin - Jan 23, 2014 at 7:02 AM

    “highest evaluation” = Most money.

    “world-famous team” = More revenue for him to cultivate via sponsorships. Worked out well for Hideki Matsui.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      2.Everyone else.

      Sorry folks, but did you think he was going to Houston.

      • indaburg - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:19 AM

        In case you ever wondered, this arrogance is exactly why your fan base is so disliked.

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        indaburg, stop it already, do you think I care, for some reason people hate the truth.
        You must be so special that you dislike people you don’t know, that’s why I write the
        stuff I do, to stick it to people like you, so full of yourself, smile my friend you will live
        longer, you need a hug you seem to be miserable person.
        Have a nice day.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        fan, that comment is exactly correct.

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Yeah, Indy only grew up in New York. Maybe you should listen a little.

      • bfunk1978 - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        As a Cardinals fan, I’ve learned something that Yankees fans have known for a while – it’s easy to hate on success. I say congrats to New York, that’s a helluva pitching upgrade you just got.

      • 18thstreet - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        What are we ranking here? Wins in 2013? Nah, that can’t be it.

        Does anyone know what this guy is talking about?

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

        He’s proud of winning the off-season.

      • anxovies - Jan 24, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        When you have done it a lot they call if “confidence.”

    • rje49 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      Well, back in the 60’s and early 70’s, do anyone remember what team most Latin American players wanted to play for? Yes, Roberto Clemente’s Pittsburgh Pirates. Free agency put an end to that, as the preferred teams became the ones who could offer the most $$$$. I’m not going to quote Tommy Lasorda and say this “ruined baseball”, but it sure created an unlevel field and general unfairness toward small market teams.

      • rje49 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:48 AM

        correction, “DOES anyone”

      • commanderrobot - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        i thought it was because american league teams were slow to integrate their rosters?

      • Eternal Optimist - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        Robot: White Sox: Chico Carrasquel, Minnie Minoso, Luis Aparicio????

  3. paperlions - Jan 23, 2014 at 7:02 AM

    Are we sure that “They gave me the highest evaluation” isn’t a somewhat vague translation that means, they thought I was worth the most or they offered the most money? Because the other interpretation is just silly nonsense.

    Of course IIATMS. If a van Gogh could talk it’d probably say the same thing after an auction, they though I was the best painting and they are famous for loving awesome art….of course, they also outbid everyone else.

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      The $$ has my vote.

  4. stoutfiles - Jan 23, 2014 at 7:17 AM

    Of course he had to go to the team that offered the most money both in salary and brand-building. He’s going to be sending a good portion of his earnings back to his team in Japan, likely through middle-men since MLB doesn’t want him doing it. I have no doubt that he and his former team have a deal in place (we’ll let you go, but you need to get X amount back to us). Last I checked he wanted to disguise the money he gave as “donations to fix the stadium”, but if MLB says no to that he’ll just find another way.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:03 AM

      Yankees had him at hello!

      Cash-man said they had Matsui do a video about playing for the Yankees and they did
      a video of Yankees facilities and a MTV Cribs type video about where to live and the
      wonderful things to do in NYC.

      Tanaka- san probably had the Yankees and Dodgers as the front runner, who knows maybe
      even Seattle, I do find it hard to believe he would have turned down the money.

      I hope he is the real deal.

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:06 AM

        and Kuroda will be there to help with his fitting in the clubhouse and everyday life, where to eat, shop, etc.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:29 AM

        I was thinking trading Ichiro might be off the table now because of the same reason. I’m sure most young Japanese players know who he is and look up to him- plus having more guys on the team that can help him become aclimated to a new culture can’t hurt.

      • badsequel - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        If the guy needs all this help to get comfortable he isn’t going to perform well. Darvish went to freaking Texas and tore it up without all this acclimation nonsense.

        I can’t believe the Yankees are spending 250 million on this guy. But hey it makes their fans happy in the off season.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:36 AM

        badsequel – Jan 23, 2014 at 11:07 AM
        I can’t believe the Yankees are spending 250 million on this guy.

        Considering they only gave him $155 million, I think the Yankees can’t believe it too.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        @ badsequel, instead of just throwing stuff up against the wall and hoping something sticks learn the facts before you post something. As asimonetti88 already pointed out the Yankees did NOT pay $255 million for Tanaka.

        Also the Darvish to Rangers comparison you made is completely without merit. The posting circumstances were completely different. The Rangers did NOT have to sell Darvish on the their team over any other team, let alone 4 other teams. Texas won the sole rights to negotiate with Darvish with their winning over $50MM bid to his Japanese team. It was either play for the Rangers or go back to Japan.

        I realize fans play loose with the facts on these blogs especially some fans when it concerns the Yankees, please try not to be one of them in the future.

    • basedrum777 - Jan 24, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      There is a report that the Yankees weren’t offering the most $$$. Just more than the dodgers and he wanted either NY or LA.

  5. uyf1950 - Jan 23, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    It was probably all those things he mentioned and the money didn’t hurt either. What’s the big deal 99 players out of 100 I would say follow the money the other stuff is an added benefit.

  6. NYTolstoy - Jan 23, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    Yea in going to guess he did it for the money Craig. By highest honer I’m sure he ment highest income. Im sure His Future Great Great Great Grand Kids Are Proud Of Him

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      maybe Craig thought he would go to Atlanta.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      deathmonkey41, the outfield is a little crowded and Ichiro might be the odd man out, but I don’t see the Yankees trading him unless they have to. I think Tanaka-san will be alright and comfy but he has to win or it will all go bad real fast in NYC.

      • 18thstreet - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        The outfield is crowded right up until the first injury. Then, it’s threadbare.

        It’s really quite the roster that’s been built over there in the Bronx.

  7. Youknowimright - Jan 23, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    He went with the Yankees because the best like to be with the best. See you in October, Nay Sayers.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      we still have to build out that roster, the infield is still shaky but game on!

      • jcmeyer10 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:09 AM

        Look at this guy, you do know how to objectively talk about the Yankees!

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        jcmeyer10, I don’t pump out my chest because I like the Yankees, I do defend them when
        the garbage starts, I watch and respect a lot of other teams and players, I have no time to put effort into hating the Red Sox or any other team. I do hate how the Mets operate for not putting a better product out there for their fans, I will never apologize for the Yankees spending money on their team every team should put the best product on the field.

      • rje49 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        So Fan, do you think it’s fair that the Yankees are able to spend billions while other teams can’t spend 10% of that. Is it fair?

      • deathmonkey41 - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        Wahhhh!!!! It’s not fair! My team hordes their money and doesn’t want to spend it, so the Yankees shouldn’t be able to either! BTW- the Yankees payroll is not in the billions, just saying…

      • basedrum777 - Jan 24, 2014 at 6:03 PM

        rje: the other teams COULD and SHOULD be spending that much money and they choose to take the money as profit instead of spending it. Every MLB owner is a billionaire and could spend freely on their team. They CHOOSE not to.

  8. sawxalicious - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    • sawxalicious - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:07 AM

      disregard, just learned how to embed videos…see below…

  9. sawxalicious - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:05 AM

  10. paperlions - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    Notice he didn’t say anything about the Yankees giving him the best chance to win a WS.

    • Youknowimright - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:19 AM

      What up hater lions?

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:13 AM

        paperlions is right, the Yankees have been living off that 2009 title for a long time, they better get after #28.
        The bar is so high in the Bronx, we don’t celebrate division titles, League Championships and World Series appearances.

    • voteforno6 - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:50 AM

      It’s actually refreshing that he didn’t come out and said that it’s all about the winning, like some players here do. It’s almost always about the money.

      • bigharold - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        Vote. It’s obvious that what happens on the field and to an extent is baseball. Everything else is business.

        Of course it certainly helps that the Yankees have been in the playoffs 18 of the last 20 years.

      • basedrum777 - Jan 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        Vote: another team reportedly offered more $.

    • NYTolstoy - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      Actually I just read an article where he says a reason for choosing the Yankees was because he can fight for a championship. But keep drinken that haterade friend.

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:01 AM

        He’s just feeding cheap clichés to the ignorant masses. $$$$$$$$$$$$$

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        He’s just feeding cheap clichés to the ignorant masses

        So he’s already a graduate of the Derek-Jeter-School-On-How-Talk-To-The-Media?

      • stex52 - Jan 23, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        Pretty smart move if he is.

  11. pastabelly - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    I was hoping he’d say that, as a child, I always dreamed that someday that I would be wearing the pinstripes. Alternatively, I like the Yankees policy on no facial hair.

    In the end, he is being paid for Darvish’s success. Let’s see if he earns it.

    • Old Gator - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:40 AM

      Speaking of which, how much hype is there going to be in the run-up to the first Darvish/Tanaka matchup next time the Rangers play the Borg? Anyone got their league calendars handy?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:11 AM

        Per ESPN, the first Yanks/Rangers game isn’t until 7/21 at YSIII (4 game set).

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      maybe Tanaka san believes the pinstripes will make him look slimmer, like CC.

  12. sawxalicious - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    I wonder what number he’ll wear? He was #18 in Japan, but Kuroda is currently wearing #18 on the Yanks…

    • rje49 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      How about # 155 ?

  13. canadatude - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    All of this is a twisted spin off from A Rods drug use. The Yankees turned a blind eye to it at the time, so they are responsible too. They should have to pay his salary to a charity and have it count against their cap. When are they going to have the balls to have a real salary cap to level the playing field?

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:21 AM

      Now this I just do not see. What in the world does Rodriguez’s trouble have to do with signing Tanaka? And this “turn a blind eye” and “salary cap” nonsense? Well, where does that even belong in this discussion?

      Look, if you want to troll Yankee fans, its easy. Point out their uncertain pitching, their geriatric infield and their full of holes bullpen. They will crap themselves yelling at you. You needn’t resort to this kind of fantasy. The facts are good enough.

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:50 AM

        indaburg, do you see the kind of sheet I have to deal with!

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      Please stay in Canada with your bright ideas.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      wow that’s a lot of whining all in one post! Want some cheese with that whine? Bottom line even if they had a cap the jays still wouldn’t spend and neither would the royals and the other usual teams. I betcha a dollar bluejay’s ownership wouldn’t want that cap, they want to be there at the end of the year with their hand held out looking for their yearly hand out. Let me give you some advice, stop worrying about the bluejays, they soon will join the expos so you should get on out there and enjoy some hockey!! whatcha think hoser? ya or no? Im dead on I know

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:05 AM

        Good. Lord.

        uh…are you illiterate? If so, well done for trying. I mean that sincerely. Most people in your position give up. They try and fake their way by. It is heart warming to see someone so disenfranchised attempt to use this medium to communicate. I applaud your efforts.

      • abaird2012 - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        Disregard. It’s just Harry’s Amentia talking.

      • Old Gator - Jan 23, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        many: yes, he is illiterate, but that’s self-evident. What may not be evident – but only because you are so distracted by his illiteracy – is that he’s stupid. Ergo his illiteracy is merely a symptom of his more fundamental affliction.

    • cackalackyank - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      What I want to know is when are they going to have a real rule that says every billionaire owner has to invest a minimum of 90% of the TV money back into the team, and not in their account in the Cayman Islands?

  14. triaxfusion - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    I always enjoy players saying “it’s not about the money” yet they always sign with the team that offers the most money. They must think the general population is pretty dumb that we won’t notice.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      I think it is about the hotdogs(dirty dog) @ Yankee stadium, they’re HUGE!

    • mm1956 - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      I would be very interested in seeing what the Cubs & Dodgers offered. Since 2 weeks ago, he was going to LA & last week the story was, the Cubs won’t be outbid!

      And I wouldn’t for a moment discount the fact that Ichiro, who arguably is the most successful Japanese import to MLB ever, is there to help acclimate him to MLB.

  15. dirtyharry1971 - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    how about an article on why he didn’t choose the bluejays? Or wait, that would be the shortest article ever here…..but here goes anyway….”bluejays are broke so they didn’t offer a deal”

  16. Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    “Cache and cash”, partners in the South Bronx since the early 1900’s.


  17. Youknowimright - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    It is not the yankee’s fault that there is no salary cap. Nor is it their fault that the baseball player’s union is so strong that there probaly never will be a salary cap. Nor is it their fault that the US is a capatalist society that allows you to make as much money as you possibly can. That being said, They have figured out how to make lots of money and they work in a framework that allows you to spend as much money as possible to be as good as possible. So those supporters of other teams who rip on the Yankees for overspending and creating an unfair culture, should not be complaining about the Yankees. They should be complaing about the lack of desire to spend and win by their penny pinching bilion dollar owners. And besides, just because they spend tons of money does not guarantee anything. Spending wisely is the key, which they have also done this year. The spending sprees do give you one heck of a chance to win though, and, as a fan, it is a lot of fun to watch.

  18. bigdaddy44 - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    As a fan, you would like to believe that there are other factors that go into these decisions. If any of us were placed into the position of a free agent, we would quickly realize that there is one true factor that matters in the end, money. Can’t fault Tanaka for doing what every free agent does.

    • bigharold - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      Yeah the Yankees offered more but say the Astros offered $175 mil do you think he’s going to Huston or the Bronx?

      Business should be conducted in a business like manner. Before everybody gets their panties wadded up look at the other offers. I’ll bet the Yankees not only had the best offer but the best by far. That’s decision kind of makes itself. And, aside from the Yankees global reputation for winning the have been consistently in the playoffs over the past two decades despite last year.

      There is really no reason not to go to the Yankees from a strategic standpoint. And, sure the money helped.

  19. perryt200 - Jan 23, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    The Cubs may well have had the highest offer, he just decided they were the Cubs.

  20. nolasoxfan2012 - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    How is this article not simply one character long?: $

    Yanks fans can tell themselves what they like, and they can pretend it’s about the Yanks’ history. But, what I see is that they offered approximately $30M dollars more than their closest competition, and threw in an opt-out year and a full no-trade clause. There’s probably also some ridiculous vesting option that we just haven’t heard about yet. For all we know, Brian Cashman is now required to hand-wash his car every week. I’d be a lot more impressed if the Yanks had managed to sign him without giving in on every single point of negotiation.

    • jfk69 - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:20 PM

      Don’t worry. I have hired George Costanza back. He will be in charge of washing the cars. If he is not too busy working.

  21. jfk69 - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    So he is telling me we could have paid less. If I evaluated him higher and told him I love you even more.
    I told Cashman. Flowers and candy with a nice pair of Jimmy Choo’s for the wife. Now that show mucho love. He just went with the roses.

  22. cackalackyank - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    I’m pretty certain that most guys that are in line for a deal like his in MLB are smart, and classy enough NOT to say out right…’they paid me the most’. Notice I said most guys. (I’m talking to you Robbie ‘Waaah they didn’t want me’ Cano) Also, guys in MLB are pretty quick to point out they took LESS money. (see Lee,Cliff) Now,I know a lot of folks are not gonna want to hear this, BUT if you go overseas and ask the locals to name an American Sports team you are most likely to get 4 responses. Steelers (won the most Super Bowls), Lakers, Celtics (Own more than half the NBA titles between them), AND Yankees. It’s not necessarily about being the best. It’s about which names have gotten the most PUBLICITY on a global scale. Name recognition is a HUGE factor in building any brand. Tanaka just followed advice about how to build his brand. A good paycheck while doing it? Priceless.

    • nolasoxfan2012 - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      There are very few people outside the US who care about American football. Of those, very few could tell you who the Steelers are.

      • cackalackyank - Jan 23, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        The people of the UK that are clamoring for NFL football to the extent that the NFL may actually have a team there soon disagree with you.

      • shadowcell - Jan 23, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        “Roger Goodell” does not count as “people of the UK that are clamoring for NFL football”

  23. louhudson23 - Jan 24, 2014 at 4:25 AM

    Under G. Steinbrenner, the Yankees always spent piles of money.Every season. Under G. Steinbrenner, the Yankees had a long postseason drought through the 80’s and early 90’s. The point being,that it isn’t what you spend,it’s who you spend it on.The NFL dumbass twin owners in Washington and Dallas are further proof. Having the money combined with a willingness to spend it is a good combination,but it takes more than a checkbook.

  24. obsessivegiantscompulsive - Jan 24, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    One of the accounts I read somewhere said that he appreciated that the Yankees had the faith in him to come into the majors and start producing, while other teams were talking about easing him into the majors. So that is probably part of the communication that he got from the Yankees that made him feel special in their eyes.

  25. tonyz6060chevy - Mar 17, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    He Signed with the Yankees because he knew that if he’d signed with the Dodger Dogs ,nobody in L.A. would ever see him on T.V.!

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