"It's huge, man. The game is pitching. If you have great pitching, you always have an opportunity to win," Jeter said. "When you have pitching, you always have a chance to win games. From everything I've heard, he's going to be quite an addition to our team."
The Yankees made Tanaka one of the richest pitchers in Major League history on Wednesday, signing him to a seven-year, $155 million contract plus a $20 million posting fee. The 25-year-old right-hander went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles last year, leading his team to a Japan Series title.
Jeter and Tanaka are represented by the same agent, Casey Close of Excel Sports Management, but Jeter said he hasn't reached out to his newest teammate yet.
"My Japanese isn't that good," Jeter said, smiling.
Tanaka's deal brought the Yanks' winter spending spree to $503 million in guaranteed expenditures. New York has spent big on catcher Brian McCann (five years, $85 million), center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million) and outfielder Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million). They've also handed out deals to right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, infielders Kelly Johnson, Brendan Ryan and Brian Roberts, and Jeter, among others.
While that kind of spending is hardly unprecedented for the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family, it's no less appreciated by Jeter.
"Our team has been known to make financial commitments to a lot of people throughout the course of the year," Jeter said. "Anytime you have ownership that's willing to spend money and trying to do whatever they can to make the team better, it feels good for us as players."
Jeter, coming off a 2013 campaign wrecked by injuries, has been hitting in the cage and fielding ground balls on the grass in front of the infield dirt since Monday. The 39-year-old shortstop played in only 17 games last year, but he said he felt good after his first week of on-field work this offseason.