Koji Sasahara/Associated Press
The Deal: Seven years, $155 million
Analysis: The New York Yankees emerged victorious in the bidding war for Masahiro Tanaka, as the ownership lived up to the Steinbrenner last name and spent a fortune. According to David Waldstein of The New York Times, the club won him over with a lengthy negotiating session in Beverly Hills.
A couple of factors led to such a high price tag. Without Tanaka, the team lacked depth in a rotation that featured CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova. And as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported, several suitors were willing to spend upward of $120 million for the 25-year-old righty, who possesses a nasty split-finger and went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Japan Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles.
But when considering the Yankees also paid a $20 million posting fee just to negotiate with Tanaka, the total cost of this deal will be $175 million over seven years for the Yanks. That's a huge price tag for a talented yet unproven commodity.
The only pitchers to ever secure bigger contracts are Clayton Kershaw (seven years, $215 million), Justin Verlander (seven years, $180 million), Felix Hernandez (seven years, $175 million) and Sabathia (seven years, $161 million), which might put some pressure on Tanaka to perform from the get-go.
In the end, New York spent the necessary money to fill its biggest need, and Tanaka will receive maximum exposure in the Big Apple. As Hank Steinbrenner told Ronald Blum of The Associated Press, the team would be willing to spend more if not for the league's revenue-sharing structure.
"That's what these people in the sports media don't seem to get," Steinbrenner said. "If it wasn't for revenue sharing, we'd have a payroll of $300 million a year if we wanted to. So we're doing this despite having to pay all that revenue sharing."
Richard Justice of MLB.com noted the club has made more than $465 million in contract commitments this winter, so it appears money isn't an issue in the Bronx, and the team's offseason plan is to win at all costs.
Tanaka gives the team a better chance to win the competitive AL East, but he's still an expensive gamble. It will be hard for him to live up to this contract, but the Yankees deserve credit for forking over the necessary dollars to make a deal.