Friday, January 24, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka signs with the New York Yankees

Masahiro Tanaka signs with the New York Yankees

I don’t know about you but I really am not surprised at all. I expected the New York Yankees to sign him all along because of their great interest in him and great need for him. I normally wouldn’t have been so confident with the Los Angeles Dodgers showing interest. They really didn’t have a great need for him though; they already have the highest payroll by a lot. They also just signed Clayton Kershaw to a huge extension and are working on one for Hanley Ramirez. There were sources saying it came down to the Yankees and Cubs. Is that really a choice, the Cubs??

The Yankees missed the postseason for just the second time in the last 18 years. They responded last time with a splurge on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixiera. They ended up winning the World Series the very next season. The Yankees had been talking about a 189 million cap. Hal Steinbrenner though in the last year has been adamant in saying it is a goal and not a mandate. I don’t think many people believed him especially the Yankee fans. They kept dreaming of the days of the father George running the team. They kept saying how the sons would never be like the father and nothing is the same. I don’t hear much of that going on now. I think the combination of missing the postseason and the Red Sox winning the World Series pushed the Yankees. They chose the importance of winning over saving some money on the luxury tax. They understand that you have to spend money to make money. The Yankees have always been great at that and with the big market and the Yankees name that philosophy really can’t change. The owners did want to try and reduce payroll but when the farm system just wasn’t producing then last year is what happened. The Yankees couldn’t stand for missing the postseason and having their attendance and television ratings go down.

Tanaka signed for seven years and 155 million, which is a huge amount of money. He is also costing g175 million total due to the 20 million-release fee the Yankees have to pay Rakuten his old team. He has never thrown a pitch in the United States. There are a couple of things to consider though. There were at least four other teams seriously involved. Those teams all bid at least 20 million a year for him, the market dictated that he was worth that much. The Yankees also had scouted him extensively since 2007 and were at every single home game of this past season. They also watched him closely during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. They sent a contingent of nine people to visit with him when he was in California last week. This is a player they feel very strongly about and he is also just 25 years old. He has pitched a lot of innings in Japan but I would argue they are getting his prime years 25-28. He can opt out after year four and try to seek a new contract.

The Yankees really had to take this risk for a couple of reasons. They need the pitching and they also need to show the rest of the baseball world that they are back to being the big bad Yankees. I think this is good for the team, ratings, and sponsorships. Tanaka also has Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki as teammates he can hang around with and learn from. He can also lean on Hideki Matsui if need be. Matsui was the star of stars in Japan and then with the Yankees.

The Yankees will pay him 22 million a year for the first six years and then 23 million for the final year of his contract. He is a guy that will be the number three of four starter to start out but eventually the Yankees feel will be their ace. He seems to have the stuff and the makeup to handle that. It will be interesting to see him in action come spring training and especially the regular season. The Yankees are banking on this being a worthy investment and I believe it will be. If it doesn’t work out exactly as they had hoped I still won’t blame the Yankees for making this move. I really think it is worth the risk for them and expect it to pay off big time.


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