New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – The New York Yankees have won the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, signing the Japanese ace who went 24-0 last year to a seven-year, $155-million deal.
The deal includes an opt-out clause that can be exercised after the 2017 season.
The 25-year-old Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013, leading his club to a Japan Series title, and has been celebrated as the country’s top pitcher in recent years.
Tanaka and his representative, Casey Close, completed the contract with the Yankees well ahead of Friday’s deadline. Tanaka underwent a physical exam during an early-January visit to Los Angeles, where he was greeted on Jan. 8 by an eight-person contingent of interested Yankees officials.
That group consisted of team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi, assistant GMs Billy Eppler and Jean Afterman, pitching coach Larry Rothschild, special assistant Trey Hillman and translator George Rose.
“They spent about 2 1/2 hours with Tanaka and Casey Close,” a person with knowledge of the meeting said. “It was very, very good.”
The total value of Tanaka’s contract is the fifth-highest for a pitcher in Major League history, behind Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw ($215 million), the Tigers’ Justin Verlander ($180 million), the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez ($175 million) and the Yankees’ CC Sabathia ($161 million).
Tanaka also drew serious interest from the Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Astros and Diamondbacks, and a source said that he believed the Yankees may have been outbid by one club.
The Yankees will pay a $20 million posting fee to Rakuten under the terms of baseball’s revised posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball, and they designated left-hander David Huff for assignment to make room for Tanaka on their 40-man roster.
Tanaka will join a starting rotation that projects to also include Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova, with Tanaka likely slotting in as the No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
Tanaka has compiled a record of 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in 175 games (172 starts). He has recorded 1,238 strikeouts in 1,315 career innings.