Rapid Reax: In Tanaka, Yanks get their man
January, 22, 2014
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- It isn't official yet, but the Yankees have come to terms with Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on a seven-year deal worth $155 million. The deal was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, and confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com via text message by Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, as well as a Yankees official involved in the negotiations. Rosenthal reported Tanaka's deal includes an opt-out after the fourth season.
What he brings: A 99-35 career record and 2.30 ERA in seven seasons with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka is reported to throw a mid-90s fastball, as well as a nasty splitter and a slider that tails away from right-handed hitters. Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 2013 and pitched Rakuten to the Japan Series championship. Counting postseason play, Tanaka has won his past 30 decisions going back to the 2012 season. He's listed at 6-foot-2, 205, and best of all, he just turned 25 on Nov. 1.
Finished product: With the signing of Tanaka, the Yankees are probably substantially done with their offseason shopping spree. Having already signed Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, the 2014 Yankees promise to be a far different product than the 2013 team, which missed the playoffs for only the second time in 20 seasons. And oh yeah, that $189 million thing? Forget about it.
Two Hiros: CC Sabathia may carry the biggest paycheck, but it is possible with CC coming off a down year, that Tanaka and his countryman, Hiroki Kuroda, will be the Nos. 1 and 2 starters on the 2014 Yankees. And with Sabathia and Ivan Nova at 3 and 4, and perhaps Michael Pineda or David Phelps as the No. 5, a rotation that looked pretty thin yesterday looks mighty formidable today.
What's next? Well, the Yankees still might look into picking up a closer -- Grant Balfour, maybe? -- to ease David Robertson's transition as Mariano Rivera's replacement, and there is the issue of third base, which is unlikely to be manned by Alex Rodriguez this season due to his suspension. Otherwise, it looks as if the Yankees can start planning the team picture.