TOKYO (AP) — Masahiro Tanaka chose to play for the New York Yankees because they appreciated him the most among the many major league teams chasing the prized signature of the star Japanese pitcher.
"They gave me the highest evaluation and are a world-famous team." Tanaka said at a news Thursday after agreeing to a $155 million, seven-year deal with the Yankees.
Tanaka said he was "relieved" the deal was done and looked forward to standing on the mound at Yankee Stadium.
Asked what his goal will be, Tanaka's response was direct: "To become world champions."
In addition to the deal with Tanaka, the Yankees must pay a $20 million fee to his Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles over the next 18 months.
His agreement calls for $22 million in each of the first six seasons and $23 million in 2020, and it allows him to terminate the deal after the 2017 season and become a free agent.
Asked to deliver a message to Yankees fans in English, Tanaka said he plans to let his performance on the field do the talking.
"I don't speak English so I'll just have to win the trust and confidence of the fans with my performance on the field," the 25-year-old right-hander said.
His agreement was front-page news in New York, where the Daily News devoted the top half of its front page to a photograph of Tanaka's pop star wife Mai Satoda in a bikini with the headline: "Yanks score a Ta-knockout."
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 Eagles won the Japan Series title. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs and White Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros all said they were among the failed bidders.