The race for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has come to an end and the New York Yankees, who were long thought to be leading the way, have come out on top. They will sign Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million deal that includes a fourth-year opt-out clause.
As recently as Tuesday, no decision had been made by Tanaka and five teams, also including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, remained in the hunt. The Diamondbacks were scratched off the list early on Wednesday morning just prior to news being broken that Tanaka had agreed with the Yankees; Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports confirmed the deal on Twitter just after the reports came down that Tanaka was signing with the Yankees
BREAKING: Tanaka to #Yankees, seven years, 5M, opt-out after fourth year.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 22, 2014
Just up until Wednesday, many considered the Cubs to be the favorites to land Tanaka because they were willing to "blow the market away" on a deal in terms of years and salary, but obviously, the Cubs were not able to out-spend the Yankees, who needed Tanaka just as much as any other team did due to their lack of depth in the starting rotation.
Currently, the Yankees have CC Sabathia who is coming off a down season, a 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda who struggled in the final two months of the season and Ivan Nova, who can be either really hot or really cold at times. Andy Pettitte retired at the end of the 2013 season and Phil Hughes signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, thus, the need for pitching.
Plus, with Michael Pineda still recovering and rebounding from shoulder surgery, Manny Banuelos recovering from Tommy John Surgery and David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno as the only other options at the moment for the rotation in the current system, it made the Yankees that more determined and driven to sign the 25-year-old.
The 25-year-old Japanese right-handed sensation went 24-0 with a 1.73 ERA and pitched the Rakuten Golden Eagles to a championship this past season, thus why he was considered to be the prize of the free agent market of the starting pitching market.
With Tanaka, Sabathia, Nova and Kuroda as the first four pitchers in the rotation for 2014, the Yankees still could look to add another pitcher on the market; they've been linked to having interest in former New York Mets ace Johan Santana who is coming off major elbow and shoulder surgeries and missing the 2011 and 2013 seasons.
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