It’s the news that every Yankees’ fan is glad to be waking up to this morning. Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka has agreed to sign with the New York Yankees for seven years and $155 million. It is the fifth highest contract for a pitcher in baseball history. This is a move that should drastically improve the state of the Yankees’ pitching rotation. They can use that number five spot in the rotation to bring along one of their young pitchers or the other man, myth, and legend known as Michael Pineda. There is one wrinkle on this contract that is very interesting.
One of the more interesting caveats about this deal is the opt-out clause. This clause says that Tanaka can choose to leave the Yankees after the fourth year of the contract. Clayton Kershaw received an opt-out clause in his seven year, $215 million contract. With a Japanese pitcher coming to the United States, that opt-out clause shows that if he isn’t comfortable pitching in the Bronx, he could become a free agent. The other way of looking at this is if Tanaka excels in the United States, he can go for another big money contract considering he wouldn’t even be 29 years old after the 2017 season.
CC Sabathia has a vesting option in 2017 as well, so it is unclear what the Yankees’ rotation could look like in a few years. However, New York gets a young pitcher that could become their future ace and it is obvious that they have the money to re-up the contract in future years. With the young pitchers not progressing well in the minor leagues such as the “Killer B’s” (Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances), having a 25-year old pitcher with his talent could bring an ace of the future. That’s the gamble the Yankees are taking here. Worst comes to worst, he opts-out after year four if it all falls through.