Masahiro Tanaka has signed a 7-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees. Not really a surprise, especially after Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the entire season and all that extra payroll space ($25 million in contract dollars) opened up for the Blue Jays AL East rivals.
One has to wonder how Tanaka will respond to the media circus that will follow him in New York. Despite a hugely successful season last year in Japan (24-0, 1.27 ERA, 212 innings, 183 strikeouts), he has not ever had to deal with the attention he is about to receive in North America.
He is only 25 years old, and can opt out of his deal after four seasons. If it proves to be too much pressure in New York, you can bet the pitcher will be on the move as soon as possible.
Now, the market for the remaining free agent pitchers should begin to heat up, and fairly quickly. Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana are probably the top three names in the group, and they should now be able to negotiate deals with teams in time for Spring Training.
Common belief seems to be that the Blue Jays will be in the mix for at least one of those top three arms. Time will tell who that will be, how much it will cost them, or if they make a move at all.
Spring Training begins for the Blue Jays on February 17, with pitchers and catchers reporting on that date. Just who will be among that group of pitchers could change in the coming days.