Tanaka chooses Yankees in $155 million deal

Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:01pm EST
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(Reuters) - Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has signed a seven-year, $155 million deal to join the New York Yankees, the team reported on Wednesday, making the Japanese ace the fifth highest paid pitcher in all of Major League Baseball.

Tanaka, who Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said had been on the team's radar for eight years, was a perfect 24-0 with the Japanese Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles last season and regarded as one of the prize catches of the off-season.

He was reportedly pursued by a dozen major league teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

But it was the big-spending Yankees, looking to return to the World Series after missing out on the post-season last year, who got his signature.

"We started evaluating him back in 2007, so clearly we have been scouting him over in Japan for quite some time," Cashman told a conference call, adding that negotiations were extremely private, "Certainly we paid close attention to him in the 2009 WBC (World Baseball Classic) where we were first able to evaluate him against major league hitters.

"He's just gotten better-and-better and it seems like the bigger the game, the more he would step up.

"In an individual game he would dial it up. The one thing that resonated consistently is the competitive side of this particular player."

The total cost of the deal was a $175 million with the Yankees also paying out a $20 million posting fee to his former-Japanese league club and includes an opt-out clause that Tanaka can exercise after the fourth year.

Tanaka will receive an annual salary of just over $22 million making him the highest paid Japanese import of all-time in MLB.   Continued...

Japan's pitcher Masahiro Tanaka pitches against the Netherlands in the fifth inning at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) second round game in Tokyo March 12, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai