Spring training may still be a few months away, but the Yankees just made the biggest splash in the free agency pool. By signing Japanese ace Mashahiro Tanaka, the Yankees are looking to help replace long-time pitching staples Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera.
Mashahiro Tanaka was the prized possession of the Japanese baseball league who garnered huge amounts of interest from MLB teams. Just how much did MLB teams think the arm of this 25 year old was worth? Well the Yankees thought that $155 million was a fair price. Just a few days after the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw penned the biggest deal in MLB history for a pitcher, Tanaka’s deal makes him the fifth highest paid in the entire league. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t even pitched a complete inning in the league yet.
So what is it about Tanaka that teams were salivating over? Well, first of all, the kid appears to have some serious longevity potential. In Japanese baseball, it’s not uncommon for pitchers to throw more than 100 pitches in a single game, only to be expected to do it all again on just a few days rest. One report even showed that Tanaka threw over 700 pitches in a 9-day stretch, which is unheard of at the MLB level.
But not only is Tanaka throwing ridiculous amounts of innings, but he’s also doing so with equally ridiculous success. In 2013, he finished his season with a record of 24-0 and a 1.27 ERA.
At just 25, the Yankees are hoping Tanaka Mashahiro has plenty in the tank to dethrone divisional rival, and the defending World Series Champion, Boston Red Sox. The Yanks are coming off an 85-77 record, which was tied for third place in their own division and they were completely out of the wild card hunt as well. What made it all worse was the Red Sox completely turned around their luck after one of their worst seasons in history in 2012, to win it all in 2013.
Can the Yankees have a quick turn around that results in the same luck? They are hoping that by adding Mashahiro Tanaka, they’ll have a much better shot.
Still a few months out from spring training, the Yankees increased their odds from 20/1 to 12/1 to win the World Series in 2014 with the signing of their new Japanese ace.