Looks like the New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees.
We thought the Los Angeles Dodgers were the new Yankees, able to spend at will and top everyone else for the best players. But the Yankees showed they haven’t lost their touch by reaching a deal with prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka worth $155 million deal over seven years.
We reported in Sunday Baseball Notes that the buzz was that Tanaka might get six years at $120 million, but clearly the Yankees felt they needed to eclipse the $20 million-per-year figure and offer an extra year to surpass what the Dodgers, Cubs, and others might have bid. The Yankees will also owe the Rakuten Golden Eagles $20 million for the posting fee.
The 25-year-old righthander will join countryman Hiroki Kuroda in the Yankees rotation, which now comprises CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Tanaka, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps. The Yankees don’t appear to be done.
How does this affect the Red Sox?
Sox executives hinted at Tuesday night’s “Hot Stove Cool Music” event that they felt the Yankees might land Tanaka. And they were right.
Obviously, nobody knows how good Tanaka will be. The Dodgers would have had him as their No. 3 behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The Cubs would have made him their centerpiece, and it appears the Yankees want him up on their depth chart, though they paid him No. 1 money.
This is yet another deal that seems to raise Jon Lester’s open-market value, although, like Kershaw, who recently received a $215 million deal, Tanaka is only 25 while Lester is 30.
The Yankees had shed most of Alex Rodriguez’s contract for the year, and now have replaced it with Tanaka. They may also pursue a third baseman, though they seem to feel comfortable with Kelly Johnson.
The Red Sox did bid on Tanaka, but they weren’t in the ballpark, according to sources. The Red Sox didn’t have a dire need to go all out for him, already armed with six veteran starters and three top young starters knocking on the door.