One of the biggest fish of the 2013-14 baseball offseason has been reeled in. The Yankees today have reportedly agreed to a contract with Japanese 25-year-old pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The deal is for seven years and is worth $155 million.
Last season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, Tanaka struck out 183 batters and walked 32 in 212 innings pitched. He accumulated a 1.27 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. In fact, 2013 was the third straight year in which Tanaka pitched to an ERA below 1.90 and a WHIP below 1.05 in NPB. Add in the fact that Tanaka won't turn 26 years old until November, and you've got the ingredients for a very large contract.
Because Tanaka is at a younger age than virtually all MLB free agents, his deal with the Yankees will run out when he is at the relatively young age of 32. However, he does have an option to become a free agent after the fourth year of the deal when he is 29. If Tanaka's talents carry over well to MLB, he could be in line for another huge contract in four years.
With the addition of Tanaka, the Yankees have a much more talented rotation than they did 24 hours ago. The right-hander is instantly the youngest member of New York's staff and he could very well be the most talented. The top three starters of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tanaka should make the Yankees a formidable opponent in 2014.
With Tanaka in the American League for the time being, Mets will only have to face him twice a year at most. That's a good thing for a team that already has enough obstacles in its own division.