The New York Yankees today announced they have signed right-handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year Major League contract, extending through the 2020 season with an opt-out following the 2017 season.
Tanaka, 25, went 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA (1,315.0IP, 336ER), 1,182 hits allowed, 275 walks and 1,238 strikeouts in 175 career games (172 starts) over seven seasons with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan's Pacific League (2007-13). He threw 53 complete games (18 shutouts) with Rakuten, and allowed .899 hits per inning in his Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) career.
In 2013, Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA (212.0IP, 30ER) in 28 games (27 starts), allowing 168 hits and 32 walks with 183 strikeouts. He tossed eight complete games and two shutouts with one save while leading NPB in wins and ERA. In the Japan Series vs. the Yomiuri Giants, Tanaka went 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA (19.0IP, 5ER) in three games (two starts) with four walks and 21 strikeouts. He was given the honor of throwing the final pitches in Game 7 of the best-of-seven Series, earning the save as Rakuten captured its first title in franchise history.
Over the past three seasons (2011-13), Tanaka has gone 53-9 with a 1.44 ERA (611.1IP, 98ER), 30 complete games and 11 shutouts in 77 games (76 starts), striking out 593 batters with just 78 walks over the stretch.
Tanaka is a two-time winner of the prestigious Sawamura Award as Nippon Professional Baseball's best pitcher, garnering the prize in 2013 and 2011, when he went 19-5 with a 1.27 ERA (226.1IP, 32ER), having allowed just 171 hits and 27 walks with 241 strikeouts.
Tanaka pitched for Japan in both the 2009 and '13 World Baseball Classics, combining to make eight appearances (one start) and post a 2.89 ERA (9.1IP, 13H, 4R, 3ER, 0BB, 1HR, 17K), while helping guide the 2009 team to a championship. He also competed on Japan's national team in the 2008 Olympics.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander was born in the city of Itami in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, and went to high school at Komazawa University Tomakomai High School. He was drafted by Rakuten with the first overall pick in the 2006 NPB Draft.
He will become the seventh Japan-born player to appear in a game for the Yankees, joining Hideki Irabu (1997-99), Hideki Matsui (2003-09), Kei Igawa (2007-08), Hiroki Kuroda (2012-13), Ryota Igarashi (2012) and Ichiro Suzuki (2012-13). With Tanaka joining teammate Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees will have two Japan-born pitchers in their starting rotation in 2014 to become the first team to do so since the Los Angeles Dodgers had Hideo Nomo and Kazuhisa Ishii starting for them in 2004.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated left-handed pitcher David Huff for assignment.