Done deal: Igawa signs for five years
Yanks land left-hander day before negotiating window closes
NEW YORK -- One day before their negotiating window was set to expire, the Yankees signed Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa to a five-year contract.
The deal is believed to be worth $20 million, though the team did not announce the terms. The Associated Press reported Igawa gets $4 million each year and can earn $500,000 annually in performance bonuses: $125,000 each for 180, 190, 200, 210 innings pitched. He would be eligible for arbitration after the 2011 season, and free agency after the 2012 season.
The Yankees won the exclusive rights to negotiate with Igawa, a 27-year-old left-hander, by placing a posting bid of $26,000,194 to the Hanshin Tigers. The winning bid was announced on Nov. 28.
Igawa was in New York last week to undergo a physical. He took a tour of Yankee Stadium and dined with general manager Brian Cashman before returning to Japan on Saturday.
Igawa, who features a 90-mph fastball and an above-average curveball, went 14-9 with a 2.97 ERA last season, striking out 194 batters to tie for Japan's Central League lead. It was the third time he has won the league's strikeout title, also doing so in 2002 (206 Ks) and 2004 (228).
He also ranked second in the league in wins and complete games (eight), third in innings pitched (209) and seventh in ERA.
On April 14, 2006, Igawa became the fifth-fastest pitcher in Japanese baseball history to record 1,000 career strikeouts, reaching the mark in 1,058 innings pitched.
Igawa will likely battle Carl Pavano for the final spot in the Yankees' rotation, behind Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and perhaps Randy Johnson.
The Yankees have been entertaining offers from several teams for Johnson, with Arizona and San Diego considered the front-runners to land the five-time Cy Young winner. Should Johnson be dealt, it could open the door for both Igawa and Pavano, though New York could also make a run at free agents Barry Zito and/or Roger Clemens.
Igawa, a three-time Central League All-Star, has won at least 10 games in each of the last five seasons. In 2003, he was named league MVP after going 20-5 with a league-leading 2.80 ERA in 29 games for Hanshin. He was also honored as the co-winner of the prestigious Sawamura Award in 2003, given to the top pitcher in Japanese baseball each year.
Originally selected out of Mito Shogyo High School as Hanshin's second draft choice in 1997, Igawa owns a career record of 86-60 with a 3.15 ERA and 1,174 strikeouts in 190 appearances.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.