Monday, April 21, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees and prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka agreed Wednesday to a $155 million, seven-year contract.
FILE - In this March 11, 2009, file photo, Japan's Masahiro Tanaka throws a warm up pitch before facing the San Francisco Giants in an exhibition baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz. The New York Yankees and Tanaka agreed on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, to a $155 million, seven-year contract. In addition to the deal with the pitcher, the Yankees must pay a $20 million fee to the Japanese team of the 25-year-old right-hander, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
In addition to the deal with the 25-year-old right-hander, the Yankees must pay a $20 million fee to his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
After missing the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years, the Yankees went on a free-agent spending spree this offseason, also adding catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. The four big deals totaled $438 million.
“We’re going to do what we’ve got to do to win,” Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Anybody that questioned our commitment to winning is going to have to question themselves.”
Big league teams had until Friday to reach an agreement with Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year as the Golden Eagles won the Japan Series title.
His agreement calls for $22 million in each of the first six seasons and $23 million in 2020, and it allows the pitcher to terminate the deal after the 2017 season and become a free agent. He also gets a full no-trade provision.
Tanaka receives a $35,000 moving allowance, an annual $100,000 housing allowance to be used in New York or near the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Fla., and an interpreter of the pitcher’s choice at an $85,000 yearly salary. In addition to his own flight to the U.S., Tanaka annually will be provided four first-class round trip tickets between New York and Japan.
Tanaka’s deal is the highest for an international free agent and the fifth-largest for a pitcher, trailing only the seven-years deals of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw ($215 million), Detroit’s Justin Verlander ($180 million), Seattle’s Felix Hernandez ($175 million) and CC Sabathia ($161 million under his original agreement with New York).
Tanaka replaces the retired Andy Pettitte in the rotation, joining Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova. David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno are in the mix for the No. 5 slot.
“We had to make sure we had enough pitching to go together with our new lineup,” Steinbrenner said.
Tanaka was 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons with the Golden Eagles, striking out 1,238 in 1315 innings. Yankees officials met with him Jan. 8 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The group included team President Randy Levine, manager Joe Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman, assistant GMs Jean Afterman and Billy Eppler, pitching coach Larry Rothschild, special assistant Trey Hillman and translator George Rose.
“He didn’t do a lot of talking or anything, but you can tell he’s on top of what he wants and what he wants to do,” Rothschild said Wednesday at the team’s minor league complex. “He’s got an assortment of quality pitches. He’s fastball, slider, split. Throws a cutter, too. It shows arm strength, but he’s showed tenacity on the mound. When he got in tougher situations, you could see he dialed it up.’
New York had great success in the Japanese market when it signed outfielder Hideki Matsui, a star from 2003-09 who was the World Series MVP in his final season in pinstripes. But the Yankees had failures with Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa, pitchers who never lived up to their potential.
Combined with deals to re-sign Kuroda and Brendan Ryan, and to add Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton, the Yankees’ offseason spending on free agents totals $471 million.
Tanaka’s deal pushes the Yankees’ payroll for purposes of the luxury tax over $203 million for 20 players with agreements. Barring trades, there is little chance New York will get under the $189 million tax threshold.
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