For the last month or so, 25-year-old Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has slowed down the entire free agent market. After it was initially thought he wasn’t going to get posted, his team the Rakuten Golden Eagles finally decided to let him live his dream and play in the United States.
Thus, the courtship began in Los Angeles as teams met with him and agent Casey Close in an undisclosed location. Unconfirmed reports suggested his wife, a budding pop-star in Japan, wanted to live on the west coast, but it was thought the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees would be the likely finalists at the end.
With just two days before the deadline to sign, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports broke where Tanaka will play for the foreseeable future:
BREAKING: Tanaka to #Yankees, seven years, $155M, opt-out after fourth year.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 22, 2014
Like the two deals that Close negotiated with Dodgers aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, Tanaka will have an opt-out clause in the contract and will be the face of the Yankees rotation. For the Dodgers, they’d still like to add another starter as it was reported last week that it was management’s decision whether or not to pursue Tanaka and that free agent Bronson Arroyo was on their shortlist of starting pitchers.
With Josh Beckett slated to start the season as the number five starter and several pitching prospects in the farm system, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times says they’d rather a shorter contract:
After Tanaka: #Dodgers want a short-term veteran starter (Arroyo?).
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) January 22, 2014
It’ll be interesting to see if the Dodgers, along with other teams that missed out on Tanaka will pursue a trade for Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price, but it seems unlikely after the extension handed out to Kershaw. Now that Tanaka is off the board, remaining starting pitchers Arroyo, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza should find their new homes rather quickly with the Dodgers in the mix for one of them.
ICYMI: Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers agreed to a record-breaking contract extension