Masahiro Tanaka says he chose to play for the New York Yankees because they offered him the most among the teams who were chasing the star Japanese pitcher.
Tanaka appreciated the Yankees presentation, that included a taped message from Hideki Matsui and an MTV “Cribs”-style tour of Yankee Stadium, during their two hour face time in Los Angeles earlier this month.
But the 25-year-old right hander ultimately signed on to play in the Bronx because the Yankees made him one of the richest pitchers in history.
“They gave me the highest evaluation and are a world-famous team,” Tanaka told the Associated Press in Japan on Thursday.
“I don’t speak English, so I’ll just have to win the trust and confidence of the fans with my performance on the field,” he added.
Tanaka signed a seven year, $155 million deal that includes an opt-out clause that can be exercised after the 2017 season. He will also will be granted a full no-trade clause.
“That was our one shot, and we took it very seriously,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “It might have been overkill, but we felt like if that’s the case, we’d rather go all out than fall short wishing we did a little bit more.”
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said he wanted to add another starting pitcher so the team would be viewed as a championship-caliber club.
“This is a great young player, one of the best Japan has produced,” Steinbrenner said on the YES Network. “He’s played on the big stage, he has been in pressure situations. He’s going to do great with all that. He’s going to be great for us.”
Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013, leading his club to a Japan Series title.