New York • The New York Yankees and prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka agreed Wednesday to a $155 million, seven-year contract.
In addition to the deal with the 25-year-old right-hander, the Yankees must pay a $20 million fee to his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
After missing the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years, the Yankees went on a free-agent spending spree this offseason, also adding catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. The four big deals totaled $438 million.
"We’re going to do what we’ve got to do to win," Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Anybody that questioned our commitment to winning is going to have to question themselves."
Big league teams had until Friday to reach an agreement with Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year as the Golden Eagles won the Japan Series title.
His agreement calls for $22 million in each of the first six seasons and $23 million in 2020, and it allows the pitcher to terminate the deal after the 2017 season and become a free agent. He also gets a full no-trade provision.
Tanaka receives a $35,000 moving allowance, an annual $100,000 housing allowance to be used in New York or near the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Fla., and an interpreter of the pitcher’s choice at an $85,000 yearly salary. In addition to his own flight to the U.S., Tanaka annually will be provided four first-class round trip tickets between New York and Japan.
Tanaka’s deal is the highest for an international free agent and the fifth-largest for a pitcher, trailing only the seven-years deals of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw ($215 million), Detroit’s Justin Verlander ($180 million), Seattle’s Felix Hernandez ($175 million) and CC Sabathia ($161 million under his original agreement with New York).
Tanaka was 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons with the Golden Eagles, striking out 1,238 in 1315 innings.
Tanaka’s deal pushes the Yankees’ payroll for purposes of the luxury tax over $203 million for 20 players with agreements. Barring trades, there is little chance New York will get under the $189 million tax threshold.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner had been saying for two years that getting below the tax threshold in 2014 was a goal but wouldn’t get in the way of fielding a contending team. Along with losing tens of millions of dollars in revenue sharing annually, the Yankees have paid $252.7 million in luxury tax over the last 11 years.
Tanaka was the first player available under the new agreement between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball, which caps posting fees at $20 million and allows multiple big league teams to negotiate.
Around the majors
Red Sox • Outfielder Grady Sizemore has agreed to a $750,000, one-year contract with Boston. A three-time All-Star, the 31-year-old has played eight major league seasons, all with Cleveland. He hit .269 with 139 homers and 458 RBIs. He has been hampered by injuries over the last five years, missing the past two seasons following operations on his right knee and back.
Athletics • Free-agent lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with Oakland. O’Flaherty, who turns 29 next month, sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow last season with Atlanta. Over the past three years, O’Flaherty’s 1.45 ERA in 161 appearances is the lowest among relievers with 125 or more innings.
Phillies • Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt is dealing with an undisclosed health issue and will not be a guest instructor for Philadelphia at spring training this year. Schmidt still plans to visit camp in the middle of March, the team says in a statement.
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