(Courtesy of Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News)
The last time the Yankees tried to make a big splash on the international free agent market, they shelled out $46 million to a guy who looked like Droopy Dog and didn't even bother to verify what his pitch mix was. That experiment predictably went down in flames and they'd been pretty quiet on the international front since then.
This past offseason, when the newest Japanese pitching sensation was available, the Yanks did a complete 180 from the Kei Igawa disaster. They were in on this pitcher from the start, scouting more of his NPB games than any other MLB team, getting feedback from scouts, coaches, and players who had played with him, and engaging his agent on contract talks almost as soon as possible. As we came to find out later, they'd actually been following this pitcher for years, preparing for the day when he would be eligible to jump to MLB. All that due diligence worked to their advantage, and on January 22nd, 2014 the Yankees reaped the benefits by signing 25-year-old Masahiro Tanaka to a 7-year/$155 million deal.
In the 2-ish months that have passed, Tanaka has come to the states, joined the team at Spring Training, and began his transition to playing Major League Baseball. Nothing he has done so far has been a small deal in the media and it comes as no surprise that everything he will do this season will be a huge deal.