Igawa, Yankees complete five-year, $20 million deal

Updated: December 27, 2006, 7:19 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- As the Yankees kept talking about trading Randy Johnson, they finalized their $20 million, five-year contract with Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa on Wednesday.

The Yankees had until Thursday to complete an agreement with Igawa after bidding $26,000,194 last month for the right to negotiate with him. The left-hander went 14-9 with a 2.97 ERA and 194 strikeouts for the Hanshin Tigers last season.

New York must pay the bid fee to the Tigers by Jan. 4.

Igawa, 27, figures to fit at the back end of a rotation that includes Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte. New York also has oft-injured right-hander Carl Pavano and a couple of touted pitching prospects in Philip Hughes and Humberto Sanchez.

The Yankees are discussing dealing Johnson with the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, the chief contenders for the 43-year-old left-hander, who has been a disappointment during his two seasons in New York.

Igawa visited New York last week, took a tour of Yankee Stadium and had his physical. He gives the Yankees two Japanese players, joining left fielder Hideki Matsui.

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.

New York's biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox, bid $51.11 million for negotiating rights to Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka this offseason and signed him to a $52 million, six-year contract.

Igawa, who tied for the Central League lead in strikeouts last season with 194 after winning strikeout titles in 2002 and 2004, has said he is looking ahead to possible pitching duels with Matsuzaka, the MVP of the inaugural World Baseball Classic.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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