Tuesday, February 11, 2014

With spring training just a few days away, the Yankees finally had the chance to unveil their big, $155 million signing in Masahiro Tanaka Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, in front of more than 200 media members.

The press conference was the largest media gathering that the Yankees have hosted since introducing Hideki Matsui in 2003, surpassing Alex Rodriguez's presser in 2003.

“This is big, this is something I was thinking as I drove in today, this would make The Boss proud,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “This is Yankee big, this is Steinbrenner big. We’re really excited to welcome the newest Yankee, officially, to the family.”

Donning his new No. 19 jersey for the first time, Tanaka opened up by saying, in English, “Hello, my name is Masahiro Tanaka, I’m very happy to be a Yankee.”

The rest for the press conference was done through his translator.

Tanaka, a 24-year-old right-hander that when 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles last season, said that his main goal with the Yankees is to win a championship.

“I’m very much looking forward to playing in that environment,” Tanaka said, referring the the Yankees-Red Sox games that he said he has watched on TV.

He added: “I’ve heard this place could be very harsh to you at times. I just wanted to see where I can get to with my ability.”

Though Tanaka wouldn't comment on the bids of other teams, it's pretty obvious that the Yankees' bid of $155 million over seven-years was greater than that of the other bidders. Adding in his $20 million posting fee, the Yankees are spending $175 million on the guy.

"We needed another quality starter," general manager partner Hal Steinbrenner said. "Tanaka is one of the greatest in the history of Japan."

He'll now be joining that rotation, likely as the No. 3 starter, behind guys like CC Sabathia and fellow countryman Hiroki Kuroda.

Last week, Cashman said on ESPN Radio that Tanaka could be a very solid No. 3 starter.

Steinbrenner was asked if that would be worth the $155 million.

"It is a projection," Steinbrenner said.

“He was a player that we covered, and I am thankful as a manager Hal and his family opened their pocketbooks for us to be able to sign Masahiro." Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He’s a great pitcher, and he obviously is here with us for a long time, and we’re very, very excited.”

Tanaka will join the Yankees in Tampa by Friday, when pitchers and catchers are due to report, with the first workout happening on Saturday.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter (below).


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