We may be at the end of the Obsessive Tanaka Watch …
Ken Rosenthal reports this morning that Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka has agreed to a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees. The deal includes an opt-out after the fourth year. Throw in the $20 million posting fee, and it’s a $25 million per-year commitment over seven years. That was rumored to be the top of what the Cubs could come up with. It’s a huge, huge deal (with a nasty opt-out) for a guy who has never pitched in the big leagues, isn’t an ace-caliber talent, and has some workload concerns. But that’s the price for a 25-year-old, front-front-of-the-rotation talent these days.
If that’s the final deal, you can bet that the Yankees lingered around the six-year, $120 million mark for a long time before something – read: the Cubs’ offer? – pushed them to move upward considerably. And if that’s how things played out (I’m just speculating), it’s a pretty fair guess that Tanaka always wanted to go to New York (or L.A.), and was simply waiting for one of them to blink on the price.
As I’ve said for a while, Tanaka made too much sense for the Yankees, and the Yankees had too strong of a need (and too much money) for this not to happen. Their two-year quest to get under the $189 million luxury tax cap is obliterated, and they’ll be back to their spend-happy ways from here on out.
In the coming days, we’ll more fully flesh out the implications of Tanaka’s decision (what does it mean for the Cubs? for the free agent market? for the future?), but, for now, I’m just going to let this soak in. It’s an enormous deal for an unproven and risky arm, but the Yankees have the money (and the need) to take that risk. I can’t fault them for it.
I’m not as bummed as I thought I’d be – though I’m still a little bummed. Like I said this morning, I still really like the free agent crop of starters this next offseason. And now we’ve got quite a bit more confidence that the Cubs do, in fact, have the money to make some big moves if and when they’re inclined. It’s little comfort right now, but it’s something.
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