Why Tanaka chose the Yankees

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I’d guess it was the money and the years, but here’s what he said in his press conference yesterday:

“They gave me the highest evaluation and are a world-famous team.” Tanaka said at a press conference in Japan on Jan. 23 after agreeing to a $155 million, seven-year deal with the Yankees.

I would assume (as does the Associated Press which ran that quote) that it means that the Yankees appreciated him the most and gave him that impression during meetings. But I’d be curious how the communications outside the contract figures go in such conversations. Do teams tell the player how they actually evaluate him, what they project him to do in the majors? Is that the runup to justify the contract offer? I feel like any specificity on that score would be weird — “we think you’ll win 16 games and strike out 178 batters. No [erases some numbers, punches calculator buttons] 179.”

Normally here I’d say “no, it was so totally the money,” but you do have to wonder how much cache the Yankees logo and history have for foreign players. When I think of Japanese baseball I almost always think of the Yomiuri Giants first and foremost. I’d almost certainly take the best offer if I was shopping myself around, but the Giants do stand out in my mind and based on my limited knowledge of NPB baseball. I dunno.

 

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.