I say this because both Masahiro Tanaka and Billy Joel seem to be in a New York state of mind.
As reported this morning, Tanaka has signed a seven-year deal with the New York Yankees for $155 million, and this included an opt-out after four years. And yes, that is an insane amount of money, and yes, it is record-breaking. He is now the holder of the fifth-largest contract offered to a pitcher, putting him behind Cy Young winners and proven pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander.
No one is really surprised that Tanaka signed with New York, although some may still be a bit surprised at the amount of money. The number of years should be no surprise, but the amount of money might trip people up. After all, this is a guy who has never pitched in the MLB. Yeah, he dominated the Japanese League, but MLB is a different animal. Can he live up to the pressure? I think so. If he didn’t think he could, he wouldn’t have chosen to go to New York, where the spotlight is brightest.
There are other teams who needed Tanaka. The Cubs and D-Backs expressed strong interest, but the feeling was not mutual. Don’t get me wrong, I love the D-Backs and I respect the crap out of the Cubs, but I don’t know many pitchers who would wake up one day and say to themselves, “Gee, coming into the majors for the first time sounds like fun! I think I’ll go to Arizona or to a team who hasn’t won a championship in decades.” The New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers would have been the most logical choices, and as a resident of Arizona, I am quite happy Tanaka chose not to go LA.
The Yankees are back to being the Yankees. No longer worrying about staying under their $189 million goal, they have acquired some serious talent this offseason. Like, $438 million worth of talent. They need the offense they got in Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann. They need the pitching they should be getting in Masahiro Tanaka. They are probably not done, though, since I believe they need to add to the bullpen and possibly fortify their infield. So hey, since they are over their self-imposed salary cap, they might as well keep going. You might as well.
Now that Tanaka is off the market, the remaining pitchers on the market will be swept up relatively quickly. There is no more limbo to sit through, and that is a very good thing. With Spring Training just around the corner, it will be good for the remaining free agents to settle into their new teams.
I gotta say, it is going to be fun to see Tanaka settle into his new team and new role. I mean, the Yankees are generally always fun to watch, but with all of the off-season signings I feel like the fans have extra incentive to watch the games. The Yankees needed Tanaka and they got him. Let’s just hope that he will live up to expectations.