Prized Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka will sign with the New York Yankees for seven years and $155 million, reports Ken Rosenthal. The deal has an opt-out clause after four seasons.
So much for the Yankees' reported attempts to get under the $189 million mark to avoid paying luxury tax. (Although a payroll analysis showed that this was probably going to be impossible anyway.) In a supposedly frugal offseason, the Yankees have committed $393 million to Tanaka, Brian McCann, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
This was the first year of a new posting system for Japanese players. Instead of teams bidding via a fee to Tanaka's Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles received the maximum $20 million, and it was up to Tanaka to individually negotiate a contract.
The length wasn't unexpected—Tanaka, as with all imports, was to be under his MLB team's control for six years, so any deal would have been at least that long. The only question was which free-spending club would offer the most appealing deal. The final four teams were reportedly the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox.
Tanaka's stuff—decent fastball, great command, filthy splitter—is almost universally projected to translate to a front-of-the-rotation starter, but as Rosenthal notes, this is the fifth-biggest contract ever for a pitcher, and it's a for guy who's never played a game in MLB.