Masahiro Tanaka has accepted a $155 million contract with the New York Yankees. The 25-year old Japanese pitcher from the Rakuten Golden Eagles has been in the United States to talk to different Major League Baseball clubs for a possible transfer next season. The contract is for seven years with an option to leave the team on the fourth, which would still give Tanaka a whopping $88 million.
The right-hander who has a 24-0 record with the Eagles last season attracted a lot of high-profile MLB teams after he announced his interest to move. Teams who were reportedly interested included the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox along with the Yankees. The new posting system requires him to choose a team within a 30-day period and since that was to end this Friday, Tanaka had been busy meeting with several of the teams. The Yankees will be paying an additional $20 million dollars to finalize their acquisition of the Japanese pitcher. Under the new rules of the posting system between the Nippon Professional Baseball and MLB, a cap of $20 million dollars will be paid by the U.S. team to negotiate and close the deal with a Japanese player. Tanaka’s contract is the fifth highest-sum offered to a pitcher in history. While the deal will earn him $22 million per year, the seventh year is worth $23 million.
Tanaka, also known as “Ma-kun” in Japan has a 53-9 record over the past three seasons with an ERA under two, has represented his country in both the Olympics and World Baseball Classic. He has been at the top of the NPB in wins, ERA and complete games twice, even being the league’s top in strikeouts. Tanaka has also been awarded the league’s top starting pitcher twice. While his record in the NPB shows a lot of talent, a lot of scouts believe that his move is also the most hyped since Hideki Irabu moved to the Yankees 15 years ago. Many are already predicting that Tanaka will be less successful than Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers, now the star pitcher of his team after a 29-18 record for the past two seasons. History shows that it is not always an easy transition for Japanese pitchers in the MLB. Players like Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox, whose transfer cost the Red Sox around $100 million, had only one outstanding season so far. Kei Igawa of the New York Yankees moved for $46 million and won big-league games only twice while Irabu, whose contract then cost $12.8 million retired with a losing record. The New York Yankees are banking on Tanaka to beef up their poor starting rotation. With Tanaka’s good split-fingered fastball and very powerful slides, would be a very good addition to the team.
[ via Yahoo Sports ]