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Masahiro Tanaka signs: Yankees now a 'pretty certain Wild Card contender'

The word around the interblogs.

Masahiro Tanaka, come on down. You're the next contestant on "Japanese Baseball Imports".
Masahiro Tanaka, come on down. You're the next contestant on "Japanese Baseball Imports".
Koji Watanabe

So, the luxury Japanese import has decided on the luxuriously-inclined New York Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka signed a 7-year, $155 million contract on Wednesday, ending the national concern over which vast, wealthy, coastal metropolitan center was going to receive his services for the time being (Chicago was a contender financially, but probably not the best fit for Tanaka at this time).

So how is Chicago moving on without Tanaka in the fold? Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue is on the elevated train to Move-on-ville:

Now, the question is: What do the Cubs do with the money they had clearly earmarked for signing Tanaka? This could have been as much as $20 million a year, or perhaps even more, depending on how such a contract was structured.

He mentions possibilities such as Ervin Santana, Paul Maholm, and others as possible targets for the Cubs now, which would look to be an improvement, though perhaps not as desirable an upgrade as the once-coveted Tanaka.

Over at True Blue LA, the Los Angeles response was more, matter-of-fact:

The Dodgers lost out on Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, who agreed to terms with the Yankees for a reported $155 million over seven years, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.


The Yankees will pay a $20 million release fee to the Rakuten Eagles for Tanaka, which doesn't count against the competitive balance tax. The fee will be split in two installments in 2014 and 2015.

The Dodgers have good reason to be blase about what was, by all accounts, a luxury more than a necessity. With Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu, they aren't exactly hunting for rotation options, and will now look to shore up the back end which, by the way, has Dan Haren, Chad Billingsley, and Josh Beckett.

Over at Pinstripe Alley, the mood was enthusiastic, yet somewhat apprehensive, in an "I am going to regret this in the morning" kind of way:

The first takeaway is obvious: dear sweet fancy Moses, that's a lot of dough to drop on someone who has yet to throw a pitch in the majors. The Yankees needed a huge boost to their starting rotation though, and Tanaka's unbelievably great numbers in Japan and comparisons to a young Hiroki Kuroda definitely inspire confidence.

And while there were similar expressions of joy from other Pinstripe writers in the Yankees' ability to contend in 2014 with Tanaka in tow, concern was raised over Tanaka's contract, centered specifically around the opt-out clause:

Since then, the opt out has become a more and more common tool. CC Sabathia got one, and the threat of it turned into a one year, $30M extension on his existing deal. Zach Greinke got one from the Dodgers, as did Clayton Kershaw.

And now the Yankees have given one to Masahiro Tanaka.

This is, perhaps, the worst concession in a deal the Yankees had to make.

The great and glorious Jeff Sullivan over at FanGraphs had a pretty succinct breakdown of all of the above, and what it now means for the next two weeks:

For now, the Yankees have their man, which most people should’ve been expecting. They probably still aren’t good enough to catch the Red Sox, but they’re a pretty certain Wild Card contender, which they might not have been with a worse starter in Tanaka’s place. And with Tanaka having made a decision, at last, the remaining offseason dominoes ought to begin toppling with spring training right around the corner.

Pitchers and catchers report in three weeks, and the likes of Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, and a slew of other pitchers are now loosed from the Shadow of Tanaka, and most of whom (presuming that some of them don't get Lohse'd by the Competitive Balance stipulations) should be employed rather quickly. It was an interesting couple of weeks, and now that the saga is over, the denouement commences and the story of the off-season draws closer to a conclusion, and the beginning of Spring Training.