At long last, the mission is complete. The Yankees have signed 25-year-old Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract, putting the final nail in the coffin of Plan 189. The deal will pay Tanaka $22 million for the first six years and $23 million for year seven, an average annual value of about $22.14 million. Tanaka will also have an opt-out clause after the fourth year of his contract. That could be interesting and kind of scary since he would be entering his age 30 season after opting out.
The first takeaway is obvious: dear sweet fancy Moses, that's a lot of dough to drop on someone who has yet to throw a pitch in the majors. The Yankees needed a huge boost to their starting rotation though, and Tanaka's unbelievably great numbers in Japan and comparisons to a young Hiroki Kuroda definitely inspire confidence. Plus, he only turned 25 in November. The best is likely yet to come for Tanaka, and the Yankees' rotation looks a whole lot better with the quintet of Tanaka, Kuroda, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda/David Phelps than it would have if both Pineda and Phelps were relied upon to occupy two rotation spots.
It's a great big pile of money that they gave Tanaka, but the new posting system assured us that it would be unlike any deal given to a Japanese pitcher before. I can almost assure you that if this system was in place two years ago, the Rangers or another team would have given a similar contract to Yu Darvish. As Pacific Rim scout David P. noted, the deal is an overpayment, but the Yankees needed to take a risk on young talent. Ultimately, here we are. Tanaka is a Yankee, and I am definitely happy about that. We'll have more content coming soon.