Well, the sweepstakes is over, and the New York Yankees just landed themselves the best available pitcher in free agency. Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yanks yesterday. His gargantuan contract is the 9th-largest among all pitchers and the 18th-largest among all players in MLB. In the aftermath of this deal, analysts now run wild with hearsay and projections and what-if’s, attempting to determine if Tanaka will pan out or prove to be “worth it.” Before even throwing a big-league, American pitch, Masahiro can neither prove nor disprove the oft-spoken allegations of being overvalued. However, Kansas City Royals fans can fairly reserve the right to be prematurely concerned.
The argument over whether or not Tanaka’s play can justify his huge contract will rage on for years, but determining whether or not this move improves New York’s rotation is child’s play. Unless Tanaka fails to translate to the majors in miserable fashion, he will account for a significant improvement to the Yankees’ starting five. The occasional expert may have his doubts due in part to Tanaka’s overuse overseas, but a vast majority would agree that his splitter can strike out top-tier professional hitters.
Before signing Tanaka, Vegas oddsmakers at Bovada.com gave the Bronx Bombers 14-1 odds to win the Series this year. After the signing, New York’s odds climbed to 10-1, which places them ahead of their bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox. The Yanks were one of many teams fighting alongside the Royals for the final AL Wild Card seed last year, so seeing them improve is bad news for fans in KC. Unless you think Jason Vargas is about to outperform Tanaka this year, this strengthening of direct competition doesn’t bode well for your Boys in Blue.