Bronx, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Yankees have landed Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka.
Multiple sources reported on Wednesday that the Yankees had won the sweepstakes for Tanaka with a 7-year, $155 million deal that also includes an opt-out clause after the fourth year. The Yankees will also pay a $20 million posting fee to Tanaka's former team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, under the terms of baseball's revised posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball
"I felt we needed another starter. We were not where we needed to be, in my opinion," managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner told the New York Post. "So this should not be a surprise because (Tanaka) was the best free-agent pitcher available. He is one of the greatest players Japan has ever produced. He is tough. He has thrived under pressure. He will fit in well to New York."
The 25-year-old right-hander finished an astonishing 24-0 with a 1.27 earned run average and 183 strikeouts against 32 walks in 212 innings over 28 games (27 starts) for Rakuten of Japan's Pacific League.
Over the past three seasons Tanaka has gone 53-9 with a 1.44 ERA and 593 strikeouts over 611 1/3 innings. he's also won two Sawamura Awards, an honor given to the top starting pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball.
In seven professional seasons, all with the Golden Eagles, Tanaka has posted a 99-35 mark and 2.30 ERA in 175 games -- all but three as a starter -- while fanning 1,238 batters in 1,315 innings.
The total value of Tanaka's contract is the fifth-highest for a pitcher in Major League history, falling in line behind those of the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw ($215 million), the Tigers' Justin Verlander ($180 million), the Mariners' Felix Hernandez ($175 million) and the Yankees' CC Sabathia ($161 million).
Reportedly, the Yankees weren't even the highest bidder for Tanaka.
Tanaka, who also drew serious interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks, joins a starting rotation that also includes Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova, with Tanaka likely slotting in as the No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
To make room for him on the 40-man roster the Yankees designated lefty David Huff for assignment.