The drama is over in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes and the New York Yankees reeled in the prized Japanese RHP with a 7-year, $155MM contract. The deal has an opt-out clause for Tanaka after 2017. The MLB suitors all met with Tanaka in California, each making a presentation, but it was the Yankees who were able to close the deal.
The Diamondbacks made a surprisingly strong pitch. And so much for the Cubs “blowing away the field,” a catch-phrase that caught on this week like nothing I’ve seen since “it is what it is.”
The numbers for Tanaka this past NPB season are famously gaudy, 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA. His 160-pitch outing in Game 6 of the Japan Series is also eye-popping. Especially when you add that he came back the next day to pitch out of the bullpen.
So, the Yankees ponied up and now it is up to Tanaka to make them look smart. He could be another Yu Darvish, another Hideo Nomo or even Hiroki Kuroda. That would be good. But he could also be as much of a mirage as Dice-K and his Gyroball. It is just too hard to tell how results in NPB translate to MLB.
Some learned observers believe that Tanaka will be successful because his money pitch is a nasty splitter. That makes sense, as major league hitters can usually figure out a way to get to a fastball over time. A splitter thrown well can be impossible to hit, even if you know it is coming.
Stay tuned, pitchers and catchers report in a few weeks.