After one of the most competitive courting processes in international baseball history, the New York Yankees came out as the winner of the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. The team announced yesterday that they have signed the Japanese pitching phenom to a 7-year, $155 million dollar deal. The contract, which runs through the 2020 season, will pay Tanaka $22 million dollars in each of the first six seasons of the deal, with the seventh and final season bumping up the salary to $23 million. Tanaka has an option to opt out of the contract after the fourth season, thus becoming a free agent.
Tanaka, speaking with members of the media from the Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball stadium, said the reason he chose the Yankees over the other suitors, who included the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks among others, was because they appreciated him the most.
They gave me the highest evaluation and are a world-famous team.
The Yankees in addition to the contract agreed to with Tanaka, must pay his former team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles a posting fee of $20 million dollars. When asked to send a message to Yankees’ fans in English he responded with:
I don’t speak English so I’ll just have to win the trust and confidence of the fans with my performance on the field…and to become World Champions.
Many had questioned how far the Steinbrenner brothers were willing to push the finances in an attempt to make the Yankees contenders again, and team co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner responded by saying: “We’re going to do what we’ve got to do to win.”
Tanaka will now have to fly to the United States and take his official team physical by the deadline on Friday.