On Tuesday, the New York Yankees will formally introduce their fourth prominent free agent of the winter, Masahiro Tanaka, at a scheduled press conference.
Tanaka acquired his working visa and arrived in the United States early today and will be introduced to the media and public tomorrow and becomes the latest Japanese player to make the transition from playing in Japan to the U.S. and in Major League Baseball and got paid a good amount to do so; the Yankees signed Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million deal last month.
While some perceive Tanaka to be the team's next ace or a co-ace with CC Sabathia, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is setting the bar much lower than that for everyone. While appearing on the Colin Cowherd show on ESPN, Cashman reduced Tanaka to that of a number three starter instead of an ace.
"We view (Tanaka) him to be a really solid, consistent No. 3 starter," Cashman said on ESPN Radio. "If we get more than that, all the better. He's got a great deal of ability. There is definitely some unknown because of the transition. We scouted him extensively. Certainly, we look forward to adding him into the mix with the rest of our rotation. That's what we look at him as: A solid, potential No. 3 starter in the big leagues."
Maybe Cashman isn't trying to get the fans hopes up in case there are any setbacks with Tanaka in his first season, but when a team pays $155 million for a starter, they don't just see them as a number three pitcher. And it makes sense for Cashman to be a tad bit hesitant when it comes to international talent, especially from Japan.
It didn't work out with Hideki Irabu and it was even worse with Kei Igawa when they both pitched for the Yankees, so if you want to look at this as "the third time being the charm," the Yankees are taking a big risk with the Tanaka signing, but many think his skill set will translate well in MLB and with the Yankees.
He will have to adapt to new things in the United States such as pitching every five days instead of every seven, a new strike zone, different hitters and the pressure of pitching in the largest media market in the world in New York; something that not every athlete can do, so it does remain to be seen if Tanaka can handle the pressures of being a major league starter, much less an effective one.
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