The best way to describe New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is “adequate.” He has never been a true ace or number one pitcher, given the Yankees’ desire to acquire Gerrit Cole, but always represented a consistent option they could rely on.
Tanaka finished the 2020 season with a 3.56 ERA, a 43.3% ground ball rate, and 8.25 strikeouts per nine innings. His sample size was small due to the abbreviated season, but he managed to prove his worth once again for the Yankees and might be deserving of an extension on a more financially friendly deal.
It is no secret the Yankees are still looking for another starting pitcher to pair with Cole, but retaining Tanaka could be a good move as the Yankees are expected to gain back Luis Severino and Domingo German.
The only issue, Tanaka‘s price tag for the 2019 season was far too high. In 2014, he signed a seven-year, $155 million deal, all of it being guaranteed. He earned $23 million this past season, which was adjusted to $8.5 million due to the shortened campaign.
There is no way the Yankees are willing to offer him a similar yearly salary, but he might be able to land in the $12-15 million per year range.
The New York Yankees could settle for a Tanaka reunion:
Ultimately, Tanaka has been a serviceable arm but has never lead the league in any category and was never considered a Cy Young pitcher. In 2016, he finished in seventh place for the accolade but fell short by a fair margin.
The best way to describe Tanaka and his offerings are simply good but not great. I don’t believe he is the number two pitcher the Yankees ideally want, but he fills the role at a much cheaper price at this point in his career.
His inconsistencies have been apparent at times, and they might be more inclined to invest in a more fresh option they can extract more value from. They know exactly what they have in Tanaka, but conforming another starter to their style could be a better move.