You might not know the name Masahiro Tanaka right now, but that's about to change. According to MLB Network reporter Ken Rosenthal, the 25-year-old pitcher from Japan has just accepted a big-time deal with the New York Yankees.
The Yankees haven't officially announced anything yet, but word is that the team signed Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract. It also includes an opt-out clause that will allow Tanaka to become a free agent after four seasons. He had been wooed by numerous teams this offseason, including the Angels, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and White Sox.
So why all the excitement? Tanaka has the potential to become MLB's next great pitcher. He played with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan last season, and posted a 24-0 record with a 1.27 ERA. Since 2007, Tanaka numbers are just as impressive: 99-35, 2.30 ERA, 1,238 strikeouts in 175 games. Those numbers look especially good to the Yankees. Their rotation struggled last year — it's ace CC Sabathia finished the season 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA — and the team missed the playoffs for the second time in 18 years.
It won't be long until we learn if Tanaka lives up to they hype, but people around MLB have stressed caution. And don't expect too much his first year. "I wouldn't be surprised if his first season is a serious disappointment because of the adjustments he has to make," Japanese baseball writer Jim Allen told SI's Albert Chen. "But because he'll find a way to fix things, in his second season I think he'll be a monster."
Check out Chen's great post on SI.com about Tanaka to learn more about the pitcher and what people around baseball think about the impact he'll have on the game.
What do you think about the Yankees signing Masahiro Tanaka? What kind of MLB pitcher do you think he'll be? Let us know in the comments section below!
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