Prized Japanese free-agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has agreed to a deal with the New York Yankees, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Tanaka received the fifth-largest contract signed by a pitcher in MLB history without ever throwing a pitch in the league. The Yankees will pay him $155 million over the next seven seasons, though Tanaka has an opt-out clause after the fourth year that could allow him to elect free agency sooner.
The decision by Tanaka, represented by agent Casey Close, comes two days before his Friday deadline. Under rules of the new posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball, Tanaka had 30 days after he was posted to come to an agreement with a major league team. The contract must be finalized by 5 p.m. ET on Friday.
Yanks land Tanaka
Yanks land Tanaka
Tanaka will join a rotation that ranked 18th in baseball in ERA last season. Only three of the starters -- CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova -- return in 2014, leaving a couple of holes to fill. Enter Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan last season.
The Yankees, who already signed high-profile free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran this offseason, had some extra money to play around with after Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Rodriguez would have made $25 million if he were allowed to play.
The Tanaka signing could herald a new period of bustling activity this offseason. Players like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Bronson Arroyo have all had their free agencies postponed as baseball waited to see where Tanaka landed.
In addition to Tanaka's salary, the Yankees owe a $20 million posting fee to Rakuten. The fee can be broken up into four payments over an 18-month period, as previously reported by Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel.