Masahiro has been a big part of the big bad Yankees rotation for years now, since coming to America from Japan. In his 7 years in the big leagues Tanaka has started 173 games with a 78-46 record (7 complete games, 4 shutouts) with a 3.74 ERA and 991 strikeouts.
He has been a staple for the Yanks from the start, in his first year in pinstripes Tanaka went 13-5 with a .277 ERA, his best in the Bronx. He won 14 games in 2016, the most in his 7 year MLB career.
Well now Tanaka is a free agent coming off the weird 2020 season, starting 10 games and going 3-3 with a 3.56 ERA. There has been talk that the Yankees wanted to bring Tanaka back for 2021, but would the two sides be able to agree on length and money? Then last week the Yankees agreed to terms with former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, not that he is still the same Cy Young pitcher… But, could he fill the Tanaka role for them?
On Monday Jon Heyman said “While the Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka are still in contact, there appears to be a good chance he pitches elsewhere. There’s said to be strong interest in Japan, and the likelihood of a much bigger deal there.”
And, that right there is exactly what I thought was going to happen. For the Yankees to pay a big price for Tanaka they would basically be paying him for past service and not for long time future, because how much does he have left? And, let’s not forget his elbow issues and the way he throws that mean slider that is deadly on the elbow.
NJ.com “According to league sources, longtime Yankee Masahiro Tanaka is seeking a one-year deal at $15-20 million. SNY reported earlier in the offseason that a reunion with the Yankees was unlikely. Now it’s even harder to see how it would work. The San Diego Padres have been engaged with Tanaka’s camp, but sources say those negotiations have not heated up. It remains a real possibility that Tanaka will return to Japan.”
I mean, the Yanks just paid Kluber 11 million for 1 year. I just do not see them paying 15-20 million for one more season of Tanaka. They also just shelled out 90 million to keep second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Money they have left could go to fill out the rotation with younger guys, or strengthen the bullpen. The team is young with guys like Torres and Frazier, however they have a decent amount of aging players, and I just don’t see them adding another one, in an aging pitcher wanting that much money.
I would actually love it for Tanaka if he got to finish his career back in Japan, where he is basically a baseball god. If he gets to get a big pay day and play back in his home country, what is better than that? Well.. Winning a ring in the Bronx of course, but I honestly believe that ship has sailed. Unless he is willing to take more of a Kluber deal, around 9-11 million instead of 15-20.
But.. If you can get that in Japan Masa, go get it! You will forever be a Yankee!