The New York Yankees continue to make a splash this off-season. This time they have addressed their need for starting pitching. According to Fox Sports on Jan. 22, the Yankees have won the sweepstakes for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, agreeing to a seven-year, $155 million contract with the ace.
The 25-year-old Japanese sensation is set to join a pitching rotation that includes left-hander CC Sabathia, right-hander Hiroki Kuroda and right-hander Ivan Nova. The new Yankees pitching rotation will be a nice compliment to an offense that now includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and catcher Brian McCann.
The deal has made Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner very happy. He said after the announcement:
“We had to make sure we had enough pitching to go together with our new lineup.”
The Yankees were one of seven teams interested in Masahiro Tanaka. The list included other big market teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers as well as the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, but the Yankees won out by offering that seventh year. Tanaka will also have an opt-out option after the fourth year.
Why was Tanaka such a sough after commodity? In his seven-year career in Japan he has a combined record of 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA and 1,238 strikeouts in just 1,315 innings pitched. Impressively, this past season, he went 24-0 with an astounding 1.27 ERA.
If he duplicates that in the Major Leagues, the New York Yankees will be a favorite in the American League once again.