After a year of speculation, and a month of intense speculation, Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has agreed to sign with the Yankees.
Ken Rosenthal says the deal is seven years/$155MM with an opt out in year four.
Tanaka went 24-0 with the Rakuten Eagles in 2013, posting an ERA of 1.27, a BB/9 of 1.4, and a K/9 of 7.8. His overall numbers are reminiscent of the great seasons we saw from Yu Darvish before his successful move from the NPB to the MLB. Though Tanaka does not sport the same mid-90’s fastball, he sits around 91-92 mph, and has a plus slider and splitter to accompany his high-rising four-seamer.
I wrote about Tanaka earlier this offseason here (GIF’s) and at ESPN. David Schoenfield went into details on the starter earlier this week, as well. There’s a lot to read about the right-hander, but it’ll be impossible to know how well his stuff will translate to the MLB until he starts pitching.
Tanaka has the upside to be the top of the rotation pitcher, but there’s always significant risk when the player changes leagues. There is also some injury concern with Tanaka, as he’s had health issues in the past, as well as his high reliance on his splitter and slider.
2014 will be his age 25 season, and getting this type of talent at this age is what makes the Tanaka sweepstakes so rare. This is very easily reflected in the contract he signed, as the demand for such young talent is extraordinarily high. To put things in perspective, Tanaka is a year and a half younger than Ivan Nova, 8 months younger than Dellin Betances, and just two months older than Michael Pineda.
With Tanaka off the board, the market now opens up to teams with money to burn after not landing the Japanese pitcher. The starting pitcher market still owns Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm, Suk-Min Yoon, and potentially A.J. Burnett. David Price and Jeff Samardzija are also said to be available via trade. The relief market, where the Yankees should be active, still contains Andrew Bailey, Grant Balfour, and Fernando Rodney. The Yankees could also still be in play for infielder Stephen Drew.