It has been reported that the New York Yankees and Japanese free agent pitcher Massahiro Tanaka have agreed to terms on a seven year contract worth $155 million, the fifth largest for any pitcher in the Major Leagues (CC Sabathia is one of the four pitchers with a larger deal). The contract features an opt-out clause after the fourth year.
This has the potential to be an impact deal for the Yankees, either positively or negatively, depending on Tanaka’s performance. He is touted as a player with ace material but, obviously, has never pitched in single Major League game. If he pans out to become the next Yankees ace this deal will go down as a boon for the organization, but if he were to be a bust this deal could be long remembered as one of the worst in franchise history.
The Yankees have been very forthcoming with their desire to sign the Japanese right-hander, which made them the front-runner to land him when his Japanese team, the Rakutan Golden Eagles, decided that they were going to post him last month. I thought that it would take somewhere between $17-19 million a year to land Tanaka, but I clearly underestimated the market for his services. I assumed that his inexperience at the highest level would preclude teams from breaching the $20 million a year plateau, but that wasn’t the case.