Former Yankees’ star will stay in Japan for the 2022 season

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees upon arriving in the United States in 2014. He remained with the Bombers for the duration of the pact and was a very good pitcher for most of it, compiling a 3.74 ERA over 1054.1 frames.

By the time the contract expired after the 2020 season, the Yankees started mulling other options and never really gave him an opportunity to return under a new, cheaper deal. As a result, Tanaka returned to his native Japan and signed a two-year deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

There were times during the 2021 season in which the Yankees may have regretted not bringing the reliable right-hander back, as they struggled with depth because of injuries and positive COVID-19 cases.

Predictably, Tanaka was a star in his first season back in Japan. In 155.2 frames, he compiled a very good 3.01 ERA, with 126 strikeouts and very few walks. His 1.028 WHIP was the perfect proof of his dominance.

Tanka will not pitch for the Yankees in 2022

However, he is no longer an option for the Yankees in 2022. According to Yahoo, Tanaka will be back with the Golden Eagles for next season, and the team made it official. The former Yankees’ pitcher had signed a two-year contract with an opt out after the first year, but he’s staying with the team next campaign.

Had the circumstances been different, perhaps Tanaka could have been an option for the Yankees. But with a lockout in place and no real date for clubs to negotiate with free agents again, his best move was to return to Japan and play out the last year of his contract.

Perhaps if he ends the 2022 season in good form, he could return to finish his career with the Yankees, but for now, Tanaka will stay in Japan, where he is one of the league’s top pitchers, to pitch for the Golden Eagles.

New York Yankees: 6 Major takeaways from the Yankees series win over the Astros

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton

Last night the New York Yankees rained on the Houston Astros parade; they won the series between the two rivals. It was a game that started with relatively heavy showers that subsided as the game continued, but that didn’t help the Astros as the Yankees took the second game away from the Astros 6-3. The rain also didn’t dampen the Yankee fans’ enthusiasm as they continued to make the Astro uncomfortable with loud boos throughout the game and mostly focused on Jose Altuve.

Stanton carrying the Yankees on his back

Giancarlo Stanton is quickly becoming SuperStanton; he is literally carrying the New York Yankees on his back. In his last twelve games, he has raised his batting average from .158 to .314 and is now performing as he did in his 2017 MVP season. In three games in May alone, he has struck out twice while hitting 8 hits and two home runs. He has now hit safely in 11 games in a row. He also is doing something no other player in baseball is doing; he is hitting the ball harder than hard. He has the highest exit velocity in home runs and line drives that can knock players down or pull the gloves right out of their hands. He officially has the highest exit velocity of any hit in this MLB season.

Besides Stanton’s first year with the Yankees, Stanton has been dogged with several injuries keeping him from being the player that all of baseball knows he can be. In the first month-plus of this season, he is healthy and showing the world he can still be that player that excels and sparks the rest of the team. While he has been on his hitting streak, the Yankees have climbed out of the hole they got themselves into, going 8-3. Stanton now leads the team in home runs and RBI’s.

Montgomery keeps them in the game

Jordan Montgomery didn’t have his best outing last night, but he pitched well enough to keep the New York Yankees in the game. Monty faced 23 Astro batters across six full innings of work. He gave up 3 earned runs, allowing 8 hits while striking out 4 Astros. Again, in what is almost expected, the Yankee bullpen came to the rescue, Luis Cessa, Wandy Peralta, and Jonathan Loaisiga combined for two innings of work, not allowing a run while striking out two. Loaisiga has been truly amazing this season with his .098 ERA. Also, as expected, Aroldis Chapman closed out the game for the Yankees striking out two and earning his seventh save of the season.

Other Yankees stuff

Rougned Odor that has been a spark for the New York Yankee lineup, certainly created his own spark running for home plate Tuesday night; he crashed into Maldonado, the Astros catcher, with such velocity that the two had to be helped off the field. The good news is that he was sent to the hospital for an MRI and has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee and put on the IL for a period the Yankees hope will not be too long. Manager Aaron Boone had this to say:

“All things considered, we kind of lucked out. You saw my reaction; I jumped out on the field because it looked ugly to me right away, and I was pretty concerned. I think it’s going to be on the shorter side. … I don’t think it’s going to be something that’s too long.”

Masahiro Tanaka still follows the Yankees

Masahiro Tanaka was one of the New York Yankee pitchers involved in the 2017 season when the Houston Astros may have stolen the World Series from the Yankees when it was discovered that the Astros cheated in the 2017 season and including the playoffs. In the 2017 ALCS, Tanaka was 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA. He pitched again in the 2019 ALCS and again went 1-1. Apparently, Tanaka has been taking a keen interest in how the Yankees are doing now that they have gotten to meet up with the Astros for the first time since MLB confirmed the cheating. Tanaka tweeted this on his Twitter account:

“I like the place where different fans give beer quickly to the fans who picked up the trash can,” Tanaka wrote. We don’t know what that means, but we love it! And we love that place too!

Astros complain to MBL about being taunted

Believe it or not, the Houston Astros have complained to MBL about being booed and taunted this season, although not specifically at Yankee Stadium. This writer says, “too bad Astros, you deserve it and more.”

The Yankees have made every effort to assure the safety of Astros players, including confiscating an inflatable trash can, and guards said that David Taub went too far after spending $85 on an Oscar the Grouch costume.  When he arrived at the Stadium, his costume said:  “YOU AIN’T STEALING THIS COSTUME TRASHTROS.” The guards wouldn’t have it and informed him the Yankees had tightened their policies. Taub, however, got the last word. He climbed a hill, balled up the costume, and put it under some rocks with a sign saying, “MY FRIEND HAD A SIGN LIKE THIS, BUT THE TRASHTROS STOLE IT.” Keep the faith David Taub; there have been plenty of hand-painted signs at the Stadium trashing the Astros.

Astros series end with Gerrit Cole on the mound

Today in a matinee game at Yankee Stadium it will be the final game of a 3 game series with the Astros that the Yankees have already won, by winning the first two games. Today they will go for the sweep of their cheating rivals. They will try to do that with Yankee ace Gerrit Cole on the mound for the Yankees. The Astros will challenge Cole with Lance McCullers Jr. who is coming off this best start of the season against the Rays he struck out 9 over seven scoreless innings. Cole who has the superior ERA has had 62 strikeouts, in April, the most in any calendar month since Ron Guidry did it in June of 1978.

This will be a don’t miss game. It will be televised on the YES Network, ATT SportsNet SW, and the MLBN out of market only.



Tanaka confesses he wanted to stay with the Yankees and didn’t rule out a return

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The Rakuten Eagles held a press conference to introduce their most recent signing, one that is actually an old friend: Masahiro Tanaka. The right-hander pitched there for years before migrating to the United States to sign with the New York Yankees in 2014. After seven brilliant seasons in the Bronx, the Japanese hurler is saying goodbye to pitch home, at least for the next two seasons.

It is quite clear that the Yankees’ decision to bring cheaper alternatives (although not necessarily worse) had to do with Tanaka’s decision to sign in Japan.

“When I became a free agent, honestly, I wanted to sign another contract with (the) Yankees and play there,” Tanaka told reporters in Tokyo, per Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times. “Then, as I heard different things, I thought I might have to take a different road and considered various things.”

For years, Tanaka was the Rakuten Eagles’ ace. He was posted to MLB teams and the Yankees ended up on top, securing his services with a seven-year contract that was a resounding success: he had a 3.74 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 991 strikeouts in the regular season, and a 3.33 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 10 postseason outings.

The Yankees went cheaper

Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman implied that he replaced Tanaka with two similarly talented arms at the projected cost that it would have taken to bring him back. Luxury tax concerns (the Bombers have made it clear they want to stay under the $210 million threshold) prevented the team from bringing all three.

Other MLB teams were interested in the 32-year-old. The San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins, and Toronto Blue Jays were some of them. But it appears it was Yankees or Japan for the pitcher.

“I played over there for seven years, was told how highly I was valued, and received really good offers,” Tanaka said, according to Kyodo News. “But for me, there was also this chance to play for the Eagles again, to pitch once more in front of my fellow Japanese. In the end, no offer in the States surpassed that.”

He added: “For me, No. 1 was what kind of baseball do you want to play, what kind of environment do you want to be in.”

Tanaka inked a two-year deal with the Eagles, but after it’s up, in 2022, he may return to the States. He said Rakuten has agreed to let him “keep those options open” next winter, according to Kyodo.

The Score explains that if Tanaka does try to return to the U.S., the Yankees might be more receptive to a reunion in 2022.

“There’s no door closed, let’s put it that way from my perspective,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Pete Caldera of on Friday.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: LeMahieu on a World Series, Kluber on his health, and more

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees announced the finalized $90 million, six-year contract between the Yankees and batting champion DJ LeMahieu. Upon doing so, LeMahieu took to Zoom on Thursday to talk about the contract. He stated that he didn’t know why it took so long to complete; he thought it could have been completed in two weeks, he expressed his frustration. But all being said, he is happy to be back. As much as getting the security he wanted, he said he had unfinished business; he is back with the Yankees to win a World Series.

“This is an exciting group. We need to get over that hump. There’s no secret we need to get over that hump. There’s one goal with the Yankees and that’s to win a World Series. We haven’t been able to do it.”

LeMahieu ended the shortened season with an amazing .364 batting average that won him the batting championship for all of baseball. He had 71 hits, 10 of them long balls. He impressed with a 1.011 OPS. He continued to earn his nickname “the machine” for his ability to get on base, hit or not; he even stole 3 bases in the process. He in the call also expressed his views on the Tampa Bay Rays:

“I think we ran into a really hot Tampa team,” LeMahieu said. “I thought we were better than they were. I think they just made a couple plays that we didn’t and that was the bottom line. Going forward, we’ve got to make those plays, whatever it is. I thought last year, they just had our number. It was disappointing and I really think we’re gonna get over the hump here.”

Corey Kluber talks about being ready on day one

Corey Kluber will be pitching for the Yankees this year after not pitching for nearly a year and a half. His season was ended in 2019 when he got hit by a comebacker, which resulted in a fractured right arm. During the offseason, he was traded to the Texas Rangers. That didn’t go well at all, as he ended up pitching one inning during the entire season due to an injured shoulder.

The New York Yankees did not blindly sign Kluber to his $11 million contract; they had the inside information provided by the Yankee’s Eric Cressey, their training and strength/conditioning head. Kluber had long been with Cressey and did his rehab there at his Florida Facility. Kluber is a two time Cy Young Award winner. If he can regain his previous form, he could be every bit as good as Yankee ace Gerrit Cole. On Zoon Thursday, Klube talked about his health:

“I consider myself to be healthy at this point,’’ Kluber said. “I’m not rehabbing anything or tending to any issues lingering with anything. I’m basically at the normal stage of my offseason right now, which is a good feeling to be at: to be out of the rehab mode and just try to get ready for the season.”

It’s finalized Masahiro Tanaka returning to his Eagles in Japan

For seven years, Masahiro Tanaka was a New York Yankee stalwart of the pitching rotation. After the 2020 season, when he posted a 12.37 ERA in the postseason, the Yankees decided not to give him a qualifying offer of $18.9 million. During 2020 he would have earned $23 million had it been a normal season. With the Yankees’ priority of resigning DJ LeMahieu, Tanaka waited for the Yankees to give him an offer, an offer that never came.

The Yankees hired Corey Kluber and traded with the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Jameson Taillon. Tanaka saw the writing on the wall and re-engaged with his old team, the Rakuten Eagles, the team Tanaka spent his first seven professional seasons with. According to reports, he signed a deal with them for a two-year contract worth nearly $9 million US dollars annually. The Eagles confirmed the deal but did not provide financial details.

In his seven years with the New York Yankees, Tanaka posted a 3.74 ERA over 174 games, including seven complete games. Nicknamed the “Tank,” he was a fan favorite of many Yankee fans; many will miss him. After the signing with the Eagles Tanaka he took to Twitter and thanked the Yankee fans:’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.



New York Yankees say goodbye to fan-favorite starting pitcher

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees have embarked on an exciting flurry of acquisitions the past few weeks, locking in Corey Kluber to a one year deal, trading for Jameson Taillon, and signing Darren O’Day, formally of the Atlanta Braves. General manager Brian Cashman has been busy, while the latest moves have been exciting, it is time to say goodbye to one consistent and fan-favorite pitcher.

Japanese native Masahiro Tanaka is taking his talents back home, where he signed a deal with a Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. At 32 years old, Tanaka spent seven years with the Yankees, recording a career 3.74 ERA and 78 total wins. Not only was he a consistent option day in and day out for the Yankees, but he took a Giancarlo Stanton line drive off the head in 2020, returning to play for a majority of the season.

He stated his farewell on Thursday, making sure to thank the fans and all of his supporters throughout the last seven years.

“I have decided to return to Japan and play for the Rakuten Eagles for the 2021 season,” Tanaka wrote on Twitter. “I wanted to make sure and touch base with you, and thank you for all the love and support you have given me for the past 7 seasons.

“I feel extremely fortunate for having the opportunity to take the field as a member of the New York Yankees, and play in front of all you passionate fans. it has been an honor and a privilege! Thank you so much!!”

The Yankees’ starting rotation will feel a bit empty without Tanaka taking the mound, as his humble presence always spoke volumes of his nature. He was a quiet person who focused on his craft and managed to put together an impressive career in the MLB. However, it is time for him to go home, as the Yankees embark on another quest to reach the World Series for the first time in 10 years.

The starting rotation will likely be composed of Gerrit Cole, Kluber, Taillon, Luis Severino, upon his return, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, and a bevy of younger options. Some might say Cashman is putting too many chips in on formally injured players, but if his method pans out, the Yankees will be in great shape for the 2021 season.

Yankees News/Rumors: Tanaka likely to the Rakuten Eagles, Taillon on fire and the big risks

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is likely going to the Rakuten Eagles, his old team in the Nippon Professional League in Japan. Tanaka during 2020 went 3-3 with an ERA of 3.56 but miserably failed in his two games in the postseason against the Indians and Rays. He posted an ERA of 12.375, giving up eleven runs in just eight innings.

Tanaka is coming off a seven-year $155 million contract with the Yankees. He was reliable in five of those seven years, but he was diminished as he basically lost his four-seam fastball in the last two seasons. Now a free agent, he hoped to return to the Yankees but saw the writing on the wall when the Yankees hired Corey Kluber and traded for Jameson Taillon, who will probably be the number three starter behind Kluber and his old teammate Gerrit Cole.

The free-agent market for the 32-year-old Tanaka never developed as he had hoped to add insult to injury. According to a translated report from Japan, Tanaka and the Rakuten Eagles are close to finalizing a deal that will see Tanaka finish his career in Japan. According to a report Monday from Sankei Sports out of Tokyo, a deal could be struck as early as this week, although any terms of the deal were not released.

A fire has been lit under Jameson Taillon

The New York Yankees traded a foursome of prospects headed by pitcher Miguel Yajure to the Pittsburgh Pirates for starter Jameson Taillon on Sunday. Taillon has mixed feelings about leaving a team that also has lost Joe Musgrove and Josh Bell. But at the same time, he is excited and looking forward to going to New York, meeting the fans, and playing for a team that can win.

“Ever since I got the news I was going to New York, I haven’t felt nervous (or) overwhelmed. Just extremely excited for the opportunity,’’ Taillon said a day after being dealt to the Yankees. “Overnight, I went from a rebuilding team to a team like the Yankees… where the only thing they care about is to win. That kind of lit a fire under me.’’

Taillon going to New York will be a reunion of sorts. New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole and he played in the minors together and during the 2016 and 2017 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates before Cole was traded to the Houston Astros. Taillon, like the other Yankee addition, Corey Kluber did not pitch last season. Halfway through the 2019 season, he required Tommy John surgery. Now recovered, he will be ready to start the 2021 season. In 2018 Taillon was 14-10 with an ERA of 3.20 in 32 starts for the Pirates.

New York Yankees assuming quite a bit of risk

The Yankees and general manager Brian Cashman are hoping for a high reward while accepting the risk of obtaining two starting pitchers coming off injuries and didn’t pitch last season. The Yankees are coming off a season that had seen Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ pitch poorly and reach free agency when the Yankees did not issue them qualifying offers.

With the loss of those pitchers, it basically left the Yankees with their 2019 acquisition of Gerrit Cole and another pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, Jordan Montgomery, and a bevy of untested, inexperienced arms. Although the Yankees may not have exited the postseason early because of poor pitching, it did do them in the in the division that they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees waited to make any moves until they knew the DJ LeMahieu negotiation’s outcome to bring him back to the Yankees. When they re-signed LeMahieu, they immediately got to work rebuilding the starting rotation by signing two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber who hadn’t pitched in a year and a half. A few days after that, they sent four Yankee prospects to Pittsburgh in exchange for another pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery, Jameson Taillon.

The Yankees are betting their season on these two pitchers, along with the returning Domingo German and Luis Severino. These two did not pitch last season either, German from suspension, and Severino also returned from Tommy John surgery. If these four pitchers can all return to their former form, the Yankees could have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. If not, they will still contend but have accepted substantial risk while hoping for the best.




New York Yankees Analysis: Looking at Yankee pitching, depth will be key

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

The New York Yankees significantly improved their pitching rotation in the past week. Less than a week ago, the Yankees acquired two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and yesterday traded four low-level prospects for former Pittsburgh Pirate starter Jameson Taillon‘s services. Yankee fans now have something to be excited about, although there are risks involved with both of these pitchers who did not pitch last year. Taillon, after the trade yesterday, had this to say on his Twitter account:

“Bittersweet day for me over here! Trying to process everything- have SO much to say to the city of Pittsburgh and my teammates. Also have SO much to say about this incredible opportunity and to the city/fans in New York. Thanks to everyone that has reached out! More to come soon.”

Although there are tremendous upsides to both of these pitchers, there is risk involved, as I said. Taillon is coming back from his second Tommy John surgery, and Cory Kluber pitched only one inning last year after a shoulder tear. Both pitchers are said to be ready to start the season, but the Yankees will have to be careful with them. The addition of Taillon also puts best friends Cole and Taillon together again. They both pitched for team USA and were teammates in the minors and pitching together during 2016 and 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The two developed a very close friendship.

As certainly as the 2020 season was bizarre with its 60 game schedule and other restrictions, the 2021 season, although not as bizarre, will be far from normal. We are not talking about the health protocols or if fans are in the stands, we are talking about the players and pitchers themselves. It is not out of the question that a pitcher can have 33 to even 35 starts in a normal year. This year it is doubtful that the Yankees will push any pitcher for more than 25 or so starts. You can’t expect a pitcher to go from 10 starts to over 30 starts in a year.

Unless other additions being doubtful, the New York Yankees starting rotation will look like this at the start of the season. 1. Gerrit Cole, 2. Corey Kluber, 3. Jameson Taillon, 4. most likely Jordan Montgomery, and 5. will be Domingo German. This could change with how these players pitch in spring training.  At this point, it is almost a surety that both Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt, who both made their Major League debuts last year, will start their year at Scranton Wilkes/Barre. If either German or Montgomery fails during the spring, that could change.

This season for all teams will be similar to rehabbing all their pitchers to a 162 game season. After several starts, the Yankees may move to a six-man rotation just to give all pitchers an extra day’s rest. This is where the Yankee’s depth comes into play. The Yankees will have fresh arms ready to step in. Even if they start in the minors, you will see Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Micheal King at some point. There is also the issue of injuries to anyone in the staff, causing these arms to be used earlier than wished for.

Sometime in late June, but most certainly before the All-Star break, the Yankees pitching rotation will get another boost with Luis Severino’s return. His return will certainly cause a realignment of the starting rotation. Severino will be in spring training, although it is unknown if he will pitch in any exhibition games. After not pitching for nearly two years, the New York Yankees will be cautious with him going forward.

The addition yesterday of Jameson Taillon to the rotation means the Yankee fan has probably seen the last of Masahiro Tanaka. It is not likely that Tanaka will want to end his career by bouncing around MLB. He has made it pretty clear that he wants to come back to the Yankees or return to finish out his career in Japan, where he can make more money. His contract demands for a few years at $10-15 million is another reason he will not likely be a Yankee. Although he has been a solid pitcher for the Yankees, he isn’t worth that amount of money, especially with them wanting to stay below the luxury tax threshold. However, with the Yankees, you can’t rule anything out.

As all these pitchers prepare for at 162 game season, the Yankee’s depth will be key to keeping the pitchers healthy and paving their way to success as they as always make a postseason push.




Yankees News/Rumors: There’s still a chance Masahiro Tanaka comes back to the Bronx

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees could benefit from adding another starting pitcher to their rotation, despite signing two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber to a one year, $11 million deal. Kluber showed off in a stellar workout in front of 25 scouts, and the Yankees manage to land his services, which will hopefully benefit the team as they look to reach their first World Series in over 10 years.

However, Kluber has only pitched 36.2 innings over the past two seasons, so feeling confident he can pitch over an entire 162 game campaign might be a bit optimistic. That is why adding another starter could be beneficial for general manager Brian Cashman, who only has a specific amount of money left to spend on free-agent signings.

One player they could consider is Masahiro Tanaka, a familiar face that represents quality as a number three starter. In 2020, Tanaka finished with a 3.56 ERA and 8.25 strikeouts per nine. Tanaka was batted around a bit, especially in the postseason, but all together had a decent campaign and showed he can still be effective in the MLB.

The issue is that Tanaka is reportedly seeking a one-year deal at $15-20 million. The Yankees don’t have too much more to spend, but if they could find a way to fit Tanaka’s contract on the books, their rotation would be remarkably deep. There were reports that Cashman could entertain the idea of trading Adam Ottavino, which would open up $9 million in available funds, just enough to help them retain Tanaka and a one year deal.

However, there is still a possibility that Tanaka goes back to Japan, which reportedly has a few luxurious contracts waiting for him if he decides to make a move.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Monday that “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.”

Either way, the Yankees could benefit from adding another starter to the rotation, as I personally don’t feel comfortable relying on Luis Severino and Domingo German, who haven’t pitched in over three years combined.

There is a “good chance” Tanaka pitches elsewhere in 2021, but the Yankees are still in touch with him

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka has been the consummate professional during his seven-year tenure with the New York Yankees. He came to the United States as a 25-year old pitching star in his native Japan, and so far, he has been able to accumulate fantastic numbers in the major leagues: a 3.74 ERA, a 3.91 FIP, a 3.52 xFIP, and 18.9 fWAR.

Now at 32 years old, Tanaka is looking at a strange free agency period. He wants to come back to the Yankees, but he wants at least $15 million (ideally, it would be something closer to $20 million) and the team, fresh off giving $11 million to Corey Kluber, won’t match that.

As a result, he is widely expected to sign with another team, most likely in Japan, that can offer him what he wants. However, don’t take him out of the equation entirely. Yes, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that while there’s a “good chance” he pitches elsewhere, the Yankees are still in touch with Masahiro Tanaka.

A reunion is extremely unlikely, though. Tanaka isn’t the same pitcher he was in his twenties. Yes, he had a good 3.56 ERA in the 2020 short season, but he also finished with his highest FIP so far, at 4.42.

Will Tanaka leave the Yankees?

There is “strong interest” in Tanaka from Japan, where he starred for years before coming to the Yankees. However, don’t dismiss the option of him signing with another MLB team. It is also unlikely, but the pitcher himself didn’t rule it out.

In fact, with so many pitching-starved teams (the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Angels come to mind) it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see the talented right-hander staying in the States.

If the Angels lose out on Bauer, for example, Tanaka would be a logical target. Even if they do sign the reining NL Cy Young, they could also bring the former Yankees’ star.

For now, the reality indicates that the Yankees are unlikely to bring back Tanaka after seven very successful seasons in the Bronx. But there is still a tiny chance it happens.

New York Yankees: The writing is on the wall, thanks for everything “Tank” (video)

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees had two main priorities: re-signing DJ LeMahieu and addressing their pitching needs after losing Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ to free agency after the season ended. After two months of the offseason passed, four days ago, Yankee general manager Brian Cashman shifted into high gear and announced the signing of DJ LeMahieu to a $90 million six-year contract.

Within just hours, the New York Yankees announced the signing of two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to a one-year deal worth $11 million. With the Yankees still interested in re-signing Masahiro Tanaka, the “Klubot” deal seemed to be the writing on the wall that Tanaka would not be returning. Over the weekend, Masahiro Tanaka made it clear that he was looking for a one-year deal in the range of $15-$20 million. The Yankees will not answer that demand, and Tanaka’s time with the Yankees is almost certainly over.

According to Roster Resource, the Yankees payroll stands at $201 million with the signing of both LeMahieu, Kluber, and the arbitration raises. The Yankee’s luxury tax ledger is estimated at just over $207MM. Add to that Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner said earlier in the offseason that he wants to stay below the threshold of $210MM. Other than trades that leave the Yankees with just over $6 million to spend on another pitcher or bullpen help. Tanaka’s wish of nearly $20 million does not fit into that picture.

Another consideration is that Tanaka isn’t worth anything near $20 million. He, in the last year of his Yankee contract, was paid $23 million. It was thought at the time that if the Yankees were to take Tanaka back, it would be for roughly half of that amount, the same money they spent on Kluber. Tanaka has been a relatively consistent pitcher for the Yankees, but his last two years have shown a significant decline.

Tanaka last season had a relatively good ERA of 3.56 but was no longer an innings eater; he went 6 or more innings only twice in the entire season. In his first game of the season, he only went 2.2 innings. That was followed by his best game of the season when he went 5 innings with an ERA of 1.17. A comebacker hit Tanaka in summer camp from fellow Yankee Giancarlo Stanton.

But the biggest disappointment for the Yankees was in the postseason. Tanaka had always been good in the postseason, but not so last year. In just two games, one in the division series against the Indians and the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays, he pitched a combined total of eight innings with an astronomical ERA of 12.38, giving up eleven runs.

How sincere the Yankees were when they said they would like to see Tanaka back with the team is anyone’s guess. With the Yankees not giving him a qualifying offer of $18.9 million, it was clear then that they didn’t think he was worth near that. It appears all that is left is for New York Yankee fans to say thank you for the memories.

It is unclear if other teams are interested in Tanaka, but he will most likely return to Japan to finish out his career if they aren’t. He is a national hero in Japan and can likely make more money to finish a stellar career there in his homeland, where he can indulge in his Japanese fans’ adulation. The video below is of Tanaka’s complete game shut out of the Rays on June 18, 2019.