Tanaka has been one of the Yankees’ most consistent pitchers during his seven-year tenure in New York. His career ERA sits at Â 3.74 with a 120 ERA+ and a 4.42 FIP. Â In 1054.1 career innings, Tanaka’s punched out 991 batters and walked 208 while averaging 8.4 hits allowed per nine innings.
Despite his numbers being above league average, it’s growing increasingly likely that Tanaka won’t be a Yankee in 2021. With DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber’s signings on Friday, the Yankees sit just a few million dollars below the luxury tax, a threshold the team isn’t planning on surpassing. Signing Tanaka right now would bring the Yankees way over the Luxury Tax.
Regardless of if the Yankees sign Tanaka or not, the team will likely have to clear some cap space to fulfill all their needs. The Yankees remain interested in acquiring another starting pitcher, as well as bullpen arms, bench players, and potentially a left-fielder.
Adam Ottavino’s name has frequently been mentioned for potential trades, as he holds a $9 million salary to his name. Trading him could help give the Yankees enough room to take care of their other free-agency needs.
The team seems to be in on trading for pitcher Luis Castillo, a hard-throwing starter on the Cincinnati Reds. He has three years of team control left and would be a strong fit for the Yankees if the team can get him without giving up too much.
Acquiring Castillo to fill the rotation and clear cap space would be a huge win for the Yankees and put them in a good position to win a 28th World Series Championship.
But for Tanaka, it seems like his time with the Yankees has come to an end, no matter what other moves the Yankees make. With the money he wants, there isn’t a place for him on the team unless the Yankees are willing to exceed the Luxury Tax. If the Yankees don’t sign him, Tanaka will likely return to Japan and pitch. He’d be able to get the money he wants and be dominant.