Tanaka chose Yankees with championship in mind

Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka speaks during a news conference in Sendai, Japan, January 23,...

Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka speaks during a news conference in Sendai, Japan, January 23, 2014. (REUTERS/Kyodo)

The Sports Xchange

, Last Updated: 1:36 PM ET

Masahiro Tanaka should fit right in when he arrives in New York to put on Yankees pinstripes.

Asked Thursday to share his motive for joining baseball's winningest franchise, Tanaka is already talking the talk.

"To become world champions," he said at a news conference in Tokyo, where the right-hander confirmed the Yankees made the biggest offer.

"I'm going there to win the World Series."

Tanaka said the Yankees gave him the highest "evaluation." They also gave him the largest contract offer. Agent Casey Close, one week removed from sealing a $215 million deal for Clayton Kershaw with the Los Angeles Dodgers, fielded offers from the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers in excess of $100 million.

Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees Wednesday. He becomes the fifth-highest paid pitcher in Major League Baseball before delivering his first pitch.

At 25, Tanaka is seasoned with seven years in baseball in Japan. There is some concern that he threw too many pitches and innings, averaging more than 110 ptiches in the past five seasons.

Tanaka is married to pop singer Mai Satoda, who was reportedly pushing for a destination on the West Coast.

It might be best for the Yankees that Tanaka said he plans to win fans over with his pitching, and that the sales pitch from New York didn't include this week's brutal weather.

"I've only been there once, and I don't remember much, just that the weather wasn't good," said a smiling Tanaka.

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 and that series included a 160-pitch outing.

Over the past three seasons, Tanaka was 53-9 with a 1.44 ERA, 30 complete games and 11 shutouts in 77 games (76 starts), striking out 593 batters with just 78 walks.

Of course there are concerns such as the workload but the differences are that in Japan, pitchers start every seven days as opposed to the five days in the United States and that strike zone is narrower.

"You always have concerns," Cashman said. "I think I can speak for anybody. That's something that you can't ignore or deny but despite that clearly by the competitive bidding on him as a free agent with the age the talent scouting assessments and the pitching market the way it is, it's certainly something that we're still willing to take the risk despite acknowledging that yeah there's a workload there."


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