|High-spending Yanks add Tanaka for $155M|
|Wednesday, January 22, 2014 9:20 PM|
NEW YORK — The Yankees talked frugality, then reverted to their high-spending ways.
New York capped an offseason spending spree by agreeing Wednesday to a $155 million, 7-year contract with prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
Following just the second season in 19 years that didn’t include a playoff appearance, the Yankees flexed their economic might and committed $438 million to four free agents.
Tanaka joined catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran on a revamped roster missing long-time All-Stars Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Robinson Cano.
And in addition to the deal with the 25-year-old right-hander, the Yankees must pay a $20 million posting fee to Tanaka’s Japanese club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
“Anybody that questioned our commitment to winning is going to have to question themselves,” Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Big-league teams had until Friday to reach an agreement with Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year as the Golden Eagles won the Japan Series title. Arizona, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston all said they were among the failed bidders.
Still, the Yankees have ample uncertainty — especially in an AL East where they compete with World Series champion Boston. And especially with a veteran team that saw 21 players go on the disabled list last year.
David Robertson appears set to inherit the closer’s role from the retired Rivera and New York must try to make up the offense lost when Cano left for a $240 million, 10-year deal with Seattle. Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the entire season and 39-year-old shortstop Derek Jeter has played just 17 games since October 2012.
“I think the entire infield is certainly something that people will focus on,” New York general manager Brian Cashman said. “What’s Brian Roberts going to be? What’s Derek Jeter going to be as he comes back from his injury? What’s Mark Teixeira going to be at first base as he comes back from his wrist? Can Kelly Johnson secure and handle on a consistent basis third base?”
New York went 85-77 last year, its worst record since 1992. Attendance and television ratings dropped.
The pinstriped response was similar to the Yankees’ behavior after they missed the playoffs in 2008. They spent $423.5 million on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Teixeira, then won their 27th World Series title.
This offseason included big deals for McCann ($85 million for five years), Ellsbury ($153 million for seven) and Beltran ($45 million for three). Combined with agreements to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda and Brendan Ryan and adding Roberts, Johnson and Matt Thornton, the Yankees’ offseason spending on free agents totals $471 million. Add the posting fee, and the cost was nearly a half-billion dollars.
“There has been criticism of myself and my brother the last couple years that, gee, if our dad was still in charge, we’d be spending this and spending that and doing whatever it takes to win,” Hank Steinbrenner added, referring to late Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner. “He didn’t have revenue sharing, at least for most of his time. That’s what these people in the sports media don’t seem to get. If it wasn’t for revenue sharing, we’d have a payroll of $300 million a year if we wanted to. So we’re doing this despite having to pay all that revenue sharing.”
Tanaka replaces the retired Pettitte in the rotation and joins Sabathia, Kuroda and Ivan Nova. David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno are in the mix for the No. 5 slot.
Tanaka was 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons with the Golden Eagles, striking out 1,238 in 1315 innings. Yankees official has tracked him since 2007, scouting 15 of his games. They sent an eight-person delegation to meet with him Jan. 8 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
“He’s got an assortment of quality pitches. He’s fastball, slider, split. Throws a cutter, too,” said pitcher coach Larry Rothschild, who attended the session. “He’s showed tenacity on the mound. When he got in tougher situations, you could see he dialed it up.”
Tanaka’s agreement calls for $22 million in each of the first six seasons and $23 million in 2020, and it allows the pitcher to terminate the deal after the 2017 season and become a free agent. He also gets a full no-trade provision.
Tanaka receives a $35,000 moving allowance, an annual $100,000 housing allowance to be used in New York or near the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Fla., and an interpreter of the pitcher’s choice at an $85,000 yearly salary. In addition to his own flight to the U.S., Tanaka annually will be provided four first-class round trip tickets between New York and Japan.
Tanaka’s deal is the highest for an international free agent and the fifth-largest for a pitcher, trailing only the 7-years deals of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw ($215 million), Detroit’s Justin Verlander ($180 million), Seattle’s Felix Hernandez ($175 million) and CC Sabathia ($161 million under his original agreement with New York).
His contract boosts the Yankees’ payroll for purposes of the luxury tax over $203 million for 20 players with agreements. Barring trades, there is little chance New York will get under the $189 million tax threshold.
New York had great success in the Japanese market when it signed outfielder Hideki Matsui, a star from 2003-09 who was the World Series MVP in his final season in pinstripes. But the Yankees had failures with Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa, pitchers who never lived up to their potential.
AP freelance writer Mark Didtler in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.
Sizemore agrees with Red Sox
BOSTON — Outfielder Grady Sizemore has agreed to a $750,000, 1-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.
A 3-time All-Star, the 31-year-old has played eight major-league seasons, all with Cleveland. He hit .269 with 139 homers and 458 RBIs.
Sizemore was an AL All-Star in each of his last three full seasons (2006-08) and hit .279 during that stretch. He has been hampered by injuries over the last five years, missing the past two seasons following operations on his right knee and back. Before 2009, he had never been on the disabled list.
Sizemore’s base salary is guaranteed under Wednesday’s deal and he can make $4 million in performance bonuses and $1.25 million in roster bonuses.
Right-hander Brayan Villarreal was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
A’s, LHP Eric O’Flaherty agree on $7M, 2-year deal
OAKLAND, Calif. — When Eric O’Flaherty returns to health and his former form, the Oakland Athletics believe they have one of baseball’s best left-handers to add to an already stout bullpen.
The A’s further bolstered their pitching staff Wednesday, agreeing with the free-agent lefty on a $7 million, 2-year contract.
O’Flaherty, who turns 29 next month, sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow last season with Atlanta. He went 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA in 19 appearances before his season ended May 17 and he had elbow ligament-replacement surgery.
A’s assistant general manager David Forst said there is no timetable for when O’Flaherty might be ready to pitch again following the long rehab process following that surgery.
Once healthy, he could provide depth in a bullpen featuring newcomers Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson, plus Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Dan Otero.
Over the past three years, O’Flaherty’s 1.45 ERA in 161 appearances is the lowest among relievers with 125 or more innings.
O’Flaherty, originally a sixth-round selection in the 2003 amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners, he owns a 20-9 career record with a 2.85 ERA over parts of eight major league seasons.
To clear room on the 40-man roster for O’Flaherty, the 2-time defending AL West champion A’s designated outfielder Corey Brown for assignment.
During a busy December, general manager Billy Beane acquired AL saves leader Johnson from Baltimore as the replacement for All-Star closer Grant Balfour. Oakland also traded for right-handed reliever Gregerson in a swap that sent outfielder Seth Smith to the Padres. Lefty Scott Kazmir received a $22 million, 2-year contract to fill a spot in the rotation that lost 40-year-old 18-game winner Bartolo Colon.
Mets and Duda agree to 1-year deal for $1,637,500
NEW YORK — The New York Mets settled their last salary arbitration case, agreeing to a 1-year contract with Lucas Duda worth $1,637,500.
The team announced the deal Wednesday night.
Duda hit .223 with 15 homers, 33 RBIs and 102 strikeouts in 318 at-bats last year. The first baseman/outfielder was sidelined from late June until late August because of a strained muscle between his ribs.
Eligible for arbitration for the first time, he had asked for a raise from $519,240 to $1.9 million and had been offered $1.35 million.