The New York Yankees have invested a great deal of money in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. And on Friday, Feb. 7, general manager Brian Cashman explained why.
Cashman talked about the Yankees' big offseason addition during an ESPN Radio interview on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, predicting that the 25-year-old right-hander will be the No. 3 starter in New York's rotation, per ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand.
Cashman specified the Yankees' goals for Tanaka in 2014, which will be his first season in the majors:
We view him to be a really solid, consistent No. 3 starter. If we get more than that, all the better. He's got a great deal of ability.
There is definitely some unknown because of the transition. We scouted him extensively. Certainly, we look forward to adding him into the mix with the rest of our rotation. That's what we look at him as: A solid, potential No. 3 starter in the big leagues.
Cashman was quick to admit that the franchise has reasonable expectations for Tanaka and doesn't anticipate greatness right away, per Marchand:
That's asking too much. Clearly, he is going to have to transition from Japan to the States. Obviously, by the fierce negotiating competition for him, the scouting reports from all clubs involved speak for themselves.
The Yankees inked Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million deal on Jan. 22, the fifth-largest contract for a pitcher in major league history, according to Marchand.
Masahiro Tanaka's $155MM rookie contract is worth more than Hall of Famer Greg Maddux made over the duration of his career ($153.845MM).— MLB Play Index (@BRefPlayIndex) January 27, 2014
Although it remains to be seen whether Tanaka's strengths on the mound will translate to the majors, there's clearly no denying what Cashman and the rest of the Yankees front office saw in him during his time in Nippon Professional Baseball.
After all, Tanaka went a flawless 24-0 with a ridiculous 1.27 ERA in 2013.
Considering Tanaka's overwhelming success in Japan and the weight of his massive contract, it's hard to imagine the Yankees would limit him to a role of a No. 3 starter.
It's possible that Tanaka could require an entire season to adjust to a new league. However, Yankees fans will be short on patience given how much the club has invested in him.
Cashman made it clear that Tanaka will face numerous challenges in terms of transitioning into the majors, highlighting those obstacles as the reason why he likely won't appear in the front of New York's rotation in 2014, per Marchand:
We look forward that he is a Yankee and we will be in position, with our experience in the past, to maximize his potential as he goes through that. No, he is not someone who is going to, in the front end of this thing, pitch in the front of the rotation.
Despite the promise that Tanaka brings to the Big Apple, the Yankees' rotation will have plenty to prove in 2014 as New York aims to bounce back from a disappointing season in which it won just 85 games and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
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