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Notes: Yankees strike deal with Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka Kyodo News/AP/File

The Yankees and prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka agreed Wednesday to a $155 million, seven-year contract.

In addition to the deal with the 25-year-old righthander, the Yankees must pay a $20 million fee to his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

After missing the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years, the Yankees went on a free agent spending spree this offseason, also adding catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. The four big deals totaled $438 million.

‘‘We’re going to do what we've got to do to win,’’ Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said in a telephone interview. ‘‘Anybody that questioned our commitment to winning is going to have to question themselves.’’


Big league teams had until Friday to reach an agreement with Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year as the Golden Eagles won the Japan Series title.

His agreement calls for $22 million in each of the first six seasons and $23 million in 2020, and it allows the pitcher to terminate the deal after the 2017 season and become a free agent. He also gets a full no-trade provision.

Tanaka receives a $35,000 moving allowance, an annual $100,000 housing allowance to be used in New York or near the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, and an interpreter of the pitcher’s choice at an $85,000 yearly salary. In addition to his own flight to the US, Tanaka annually will be provided four first-class round trip tickets between New York and Japan.

Tanaka’s deal is the highest for an international free agent and the fifth-largest for a pitcher, trailing only the seven-year deals of the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw ($215 million), Detroit’s Justin Verlander ($180 million), Seattle’s Felix Hernandez ($175 million), and CC Sabathia ($161 million under his original agreement with the Yankees).


Tanaka replaces the retired Andy Pettitte in the rotation, joining Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova. David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda, and Vidal Nuno are in the mix for the No. 5 slot. ‘‘We had to make sure we had enough pitching to go together with our new lineup,’’ Steinbrenner said.

Tanaka was 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons with the Golden Eagles, striking out 1,238 in 1,315 innings. Yankees officials met with him Jan. 8 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The group included team president Randy Levine, manager Joe Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman, assistant GMs Jean Afterman and Billy Eppler, pitching coach Larry Rothschild, special assistant Trey Hillman, and translator George Rose.

“He didn’t do a lot of talking or anything, but you can tell he’s on top of what he wants and what he wants to do,’’ Rothschild said Wednesday. ‘‘He’s got an assortment of quality pitches. It shows arm strength, but he’s showed tenacity on the mound. When he got in tougher situations, you could see he dialed it up.”

Tanaka’s deal pushes the Yankees’ payroll for purposes of the luxury tax over $203 million for 20 players. Barring trades, there is little chance New York will get under the $189 million tax threshold.

A’s, O’Flaherty agree

The A’s agreed with free agent lefthander Eric O’Flaherty on a $7 million, two-year deal. O'Flaherty, 28, sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow last season with Atlanta. He went 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA in 19 appearances before his season ended May 17 . . . The Rays got infielder Logan Forsythe, pitcher Brad Boxberger, and three minor leaguers from the Padres for pitchers Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn.


Mets, Duda settle

The Mets settled their last salary arbitration case, agreeing to a one-year contract with Lucas Duda worth $1,637,500 . . . Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt is dealing with an undisclosed health issue and will not be a guest instructor for the Phillies at spring training this year . . . Former slugger Bo Jackson is back with the White Sox, this time as a team ambassador . . . Marlins president David Samson is among 18 castaways on the new season of ‘‘Survivor,’’ which begins Feb. 26 on CBS.