The Masahiro Tanaka saga has come to an end in record-setting fashion. Earlier today, Tanaka agreed to an enormous seven-year, $155MM contract with the Yankees that contains an opt-out clause after the fourth season. Tanaka's $155MM guarantee is the second-largest in history for a free agent pitcher (the largest for a right-hander) and is also the second-largest pitcher contract in history in terms of new money guaranteed. The Tanaka buzz is unlikely to die down in the next couple of days, as pundits dissect the contract and what it means for the Yankees and the free agent market. Here's a look at some of the early reactions to and fallout from the Yankees' staggering investment...
- New York GM Brian Cashman discussed the deal from the team's perspective in a conference call today, and MLBTR's Zach Links reported on the highlights.
- ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Yankees' internal sense is that this concludes their pursuit of major free agents this offseason (Twitter link).
- It's little surprise that the team with the biggest need and one of the two biggest revenue bases from which to draw wound up landing Tanaka, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider required). Law feels that Tanaka will be one of the 20 to 25 best starters in Major League Baseball in 2014 and notes that the opt-out clause works to the Yankees' advantage, in a way.
- SB Nation's Rob Neyer writes that while Tanaka is a significant upgrade for the Yankees, it's hyperbolic to suggest that this signing will change the balance of power in the American League.
- The Cubs were the runner-up in the Tanaka sweepstakes, according to David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Ultimately, the fact that they're not ready to win in 2014 ended their chances, he elaborates.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Yankees separated themselves, but not by a wide margin. The Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox, Astros and Diamondbacks were all involved in the end. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, all teams that participated in the second round of bidding had to come in above the six-year, $120MM level.
- Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com reports that the seventh guaranteed year is what separated the Yankees from the rest of the pack (on Twitter). According to Kaplan (via Twitter), other factors "trumped the possibility of more money," including the influence of Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda and the attractiveness of playing for the game's highest-profile franchise.
- The Dodgers wanted Tanaka, but drew a financial line, reports Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. As Dilbeck explains, the team does have financial limitations that it intends to abide by. "We went as far as we thought we could go," said GM Ned Colletti.
- For the White Sox, GM Rick Hahn says that reports of the team's efforts to land Tanaka largely seemed "accurate," reports Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Ultimately, however, Hahn says that the money reached a level that the club was not comfortable reaching. The resources that the club would have used to sign Tanaka remain available for a similarly attractive opportunity in the future, Hahn said, but he does not see any in the current market. (Links to Twitter.)
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports that the Astros' offer to Tanaka exceeded $100MM. McTaggart adds that GM Jeff Luhnow, owner Jim Crane and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens were among the Astros contingent that went to meet with Tanaka in Los Angeles.
- Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona was told that the Diamondbacks would not pursue other free-agent starters if they missed out on Tanaka, as the front office believes the asking prices to be too high (Twitter link).
- The Blue Jays were involved initially on Tanaka, but had "no way to compete" once it became clear that he would command seven years, reports John Lott of the National Post. Toronto had been willing to pay the $20MM fee, but was only interested in going to five years on the contract, Lott says. The team was also troubled by the opt-out clause, Lott tweets. Toronto figures to be among the most active teams on remaining free agent starters.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, that his team was never very involved with Tanaka and did not make a formal offer (Twitter link). As Gonzalez further explains, the Halos will instead either try to fit Matt Garza within the team's approximately $15MM of 2014 budget space or hunt for a good deal from amongst the cheaper open-market options.
- The Tanaka signing caps a nice run for Casey Close and the Excel Sports Management agency, notes Darren Heitner of Forbes. With an estimated 4% take, those two contracts would deliver a total of $14.8MM to the agency. Heitner notes also that Excel has worked out several notable deals with the Yankees in the past, given its representation of Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. With its latest run of big contracts, says Heitner, Excel will surely climb the Forbes agency valuation chart.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.