Yankee’s Sign Pitcher Tanaka to Seven Year Contract

After missing the playoffs for just the second time in 19 seasons last September, coupled with the retirement of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and General Manager Brian Cashman knew that significant moves had to be made in the offseason. 

Beginning with the signing of Brian McCann, and continuing with headline-making deals for Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees' hot stove was already burning before they made arguably their biggest signing in five years. On Jan. 22, the Yanks signed 25-year-old Japanese phenomenon Masahiro Tanaka to a whopping seven-year, $155 million deal, the largest ever for a Japanese player and the fifth-largest for a pitcher in MLB history.

Simply put, the Yanks had to have Tanaka. With an otherwise underwhelming rotation consisting of the reliable yet aging CC Sabathia, a 39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda, the promising yet unproven Ivan Nova and the injury-prone Michael Pineda, Tanaka immediately elevates the Yanks' pitching staff. He comes to New York after a remarkable 2013 season pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA en route to a Japan Series title.

He is considered to be as good as, if not better than, recent Japanese imports Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsusaka, both of whom, especially Darvish, have had MLB success. If Tanaka can come close to matching Darvish's 2013 season, where he posted a 2.83 ERA in 209 innings with a tremendous 277 strikeouts, he will have been worth every penny.

Tanaka features six different pitches in his arsenal, including a splitter that has been described as unhittable by scouts and hitters alike. He has proven in Japan that he can pitch in pressure situations and is in the prime of his career. There are a few low-concern risks present, namely that he's already thrown over 1,300 innings in his seven-year career and the fact that he will have to adjust to pitching once every five days as opposed to once a week in Japan. Tanaka should be able to put any concern to rest, though, as he has more than enough ability to overcome workload issues.

Only time will tell, though, if Tanaka can live up to his deal.