By Eddie Castro
This week will mark another marquee week for the New York Yankees. After learning the fate of third baseman Alex Rodriguez a few weeks ago, the Yankees will save the $25 million of his salary for this year and can now focus on other team needs. All eyes will be on who will land the Japanese sensational pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka has been highly regarded after his outstanding performance last year in the Japanese Pacific League. The 25-year-old right-hander went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The Yankees, along with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Cubs, have made a “post fee” and have reportedly made offers to the representatives of Tanaka. The deal is reported to be around the 6-year/$100 million dollar range, possibly around $120 million.
Tanaka’s deadline to sign with a Major League team will be this Friday; however, he may sign with a team before then, perhaps midweek. Yankee management has gone on record stating that they would like to stay under the $189 million dollar threshold in terms of their luxury tax, but it is almost certain, because of their sincere need for pitching, they would exceed that amount to land Tanaka. The team avoided arbitration by signing Ivan Nova, Brett Gardner and David Robertson, which pushed their payroll to $181 million dollars, even without Tanaka.
Let’s face it, the Yankees need Tanaka. They’ve upgraded their offense with the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. The team currently has three penciled-in starters. C.C. Sabathia will still be projected as the number one starter despite a terrible year in 2013. Ivan Nova had a spectacular year after being sent down to Triple A-Scranton. Hiroki Kuroda re-signed with the team to a 1-year/$16 million dollar deal. If the Yanks land Tanaka, he will possibly be the number four starter despite having number one-like stuff. It looks like it may be a 2-team race for his services. Although the Cubs appear to still be in the run for him, the Yankees and Dodgers are the top teams to land him. The Dodgers aren’t afraid to break the bank themselves. The team signed their ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw to a 7-year/$215 million dollar deal last week making it the richest contract ever handed out to a pitcher. This will certainly be an interesting week for Yankee fans.
Sports Notes: (Basketball) After losing the first game of a 4-game season series to the Knicks in November, the Nets took care of business on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by defeating the Knicks at the Garden 103-80. The Nets will welcome the Dallas Mavericks to the Barclays Center on Friday night. The Knicks find themselves in a dark place once again, currently on a 4-game losing streak. Carmelo Anthony and company will look to straighten things out as the team welcomes the Charlotte Bobcats to Madison Square Garden on Friday night.