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Yankees sign star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka for $155M

By Brett Wilkins     Jan 22, 2014 in Sports
New York - The New York Yankees have signed superstar Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, widely viewed as the best starter on the free agent market, to a long-term contract.
MLB.com reports Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million contract -- currently the fifth-richest in Major League Baseball -- on Wednesday. The deal includes an opt-out clause that can be exercised after the 2017 season.
Tanaka, 25, put up incredible numbers as he led the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League to their first-ever Japan Series title, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 0.94 WHIP during the 2013 season. He ranked first in the Japanese leagues in wins, ERA, WHIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. Over his seven-year professional career, all of it with Rakuten, Tanaka owns a 99-35 record (a .739 winning percentage), a stellar 2.30 ERA, and 1,238 strikeouts.
"I felt we needed another starter. We were not where we needed to be, in my opinion," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner told the New York Post. "So this should not be a surprise because Tanaka was the best free agent pitcher available. He is one of the greatest players Japan has ever produced. He is tough. He thrived under pressure. He will fit in well to New York."
Tanaka joins a Yankees starting rotation led by a slimmed-down C.C. Sabathia, who disappointed in 2013 (14-13, 4.78), and fellow Japanese star Hiroki Kuroda, who was much better than his 11-13 record last year.
Speaking of Japanese baseball stars, the Yankees reportedly turned to former Yankees slugger and 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui to help convince Tanaka he belongs in pinstripes. Matsui phoned Tanaka and extolled the virtues of playing for the world's most famous baseball franchise in the world's most famous city.
The free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers, along with the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, were believed to be the other leading contenders to land Tanaka.
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