Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka of Japan speaks during a news conference at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. (Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Newly signed Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka might have saved a few bucks if he had signed with the L.A. Dodgers instead of the New York team.

The 25-year-old reportedly paid a cool $200,000 to rent a 787 Dreamliner to fly from Tokyo to New York City — with less than a handful of passengers and his toy poodle — to be on time for spring training, according to media reports.

Reports say he rented the Japan Airlines plane that landed at JFK Airport on Sunday, its 200 or so seats pretty much empty. L.A. would have been so much closer — and maybe cheaper too, mileage wise.

The right-handed pitcher with a $155-million contract over seven years was officially introduced to the Yankees on Tuesday before the team heads to Tampa, Fla., for spring training this weekend.

The plane he chartered from Japan Airlines reportedly flew with just five passengers, including his pet dog named Haru, the Associated Press reports.

"This is Yankee big. This is Steinbrenner big," General Manager Brian Cashman told the AP.

The New York Times says JAL confirmed the charter flight but wouldn't reveal the cost. The Dodgers had expressed interest in signing the Japanese ballplayer in January, but their offer wasn't enough to secure the pitcher. Dodgers officials later said they were unsure whether Tanaka was worth the big price tag. 

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com
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