After almost two months waiting for Masahiro Tanaka to post and then to sign, the Yankees have gotten their man, signing the Japanese right-hander to a seven-year, $155 million contract. The deal will make him the fifth-highest paid pitcher in baseball history, joining CC Sabathia, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander, and he's never thrown a pitch in Major League Baseball. But you know what? Ain't my money.
I want to see something exciting going on with the Yankees, and this is it. They lost Robinson Cano, their best player over the last few years, and their best chance at a homegrown face of the franchise after Derek Jeter retired. They lost Alex Rodriguez, who, though his injuries and old age and steroid use has diminished his ability, was always entertaining to watch. There are no new and exciting prospects on the team, and there likely won't be this season. On top of all this, the Yankees added Brian Roberts and absolutely no one at third base. Despite the $300 million they spent, it didn't seem like they would be any better than they were in 2012, and that's only if injured players return to form. Now, at least, there's Tanaka.
Not only is he new and exciting, but he's also young. Very young. Before this signing, the Yankees' youngest position player was going to be the 30-year-old Brian McCann. Tanaka is only 25 years old and could be one of the best pitchers in baseball right out of the gate. He has the potential to be the team's best starter in the rotation and many believe he could be a major player for the Rookie of the Year Award. Sure, who cares, but that's kind of exciting stuff. The Yankees haven't really had someone who could compete for that award in years. Who was the last? Ivan Nova was kind of there, Cano got beat out by Huston Street, and Hideki Matsui was robbed. I want to see a Yankee have the best rookie campaign there is, even if he's been playing at the highest level in his league for years.
The best part about this deal is that it means the death of Plan 189. We've been discussing the Steinbrenners' money like it really matters to us. They have been cutting corners for and we were supposed to accept it as if they were doing a good thing. Fans don't care about the money, we care about getting the best players and Plan 189 was not about the best players. It was highly unlikely they were ever going to make the cut anyway, so I'm glad they decided to blow it up for the right move. This shows me that the Yankees know how to make the smart move and I'm happy to see it.
At first I was angry over the unnecessary opt out clause after the fourth year, but that actually makes this single deal, right here, right now, much better to digest. Sure, the Yankees will take a $22 million hit against the luxury tax, but I really don't care. The Steinbrenners have more money than god, so it's not going to be hurting anyone. If he opts out of his deal, it really means the Yankees signed him to a four-year, $88 million deal, which is much more reasonable to think about. He'll only be 30 after the 2017 season, Alex Rodriguez will finally be off the books, so if the Yankees want to re-sign him, they suddenly have all this money lying around and he's still very young. Sign him to another seven-year deal and he'll only be 37 by the end. There's a lot of people out there who say he will age well, like Hiroki Kuroda, because of his fantastic control. As we've seen with Cliff Lee, Andy Pettitte, Kuroda, and Mariano Rivera, it's not about the velocity, which will decrease with age, but where you put the ball, which doesn't go away.
There's honestly nothing to dislike about this deal. Yes, it's definitely a lot of money for someone unproven, but you have to take chances if you want to benefit from them. This is a big chance they're taking, but if it proves worth it this could make the Yankees more confident in taking the next chance. For once, as someone who has essentially disliked almost everything they have done for awhile now (there have been exceptions), I can say that I'm proud of what this team has decided to do. Baseball is supposed to be fun and this sounds like it could be very very fun for us, for them, and for the future.