The Yankees have some big decisions coming up this offseason. Two ace quality pitchers are set to be free agents in 2021. Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton. Who should they re-sign?
Masahiro Tanaka has been with the Yankees since 2014 and played the ace role for a couple of years. He has been on the decline ever since his 13-5, 2.77 ERA season in 2014 but is still a great pitcher to have in the rotation.
Tanaka has always been a reliable pitcher in big-time games and has phenomenal numbers in the postseason. He is 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA in 8 starts. He has been nothing short of incredible in October and is the pitcher the Yankees rely on the most in the fall. With ace type pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino, he could be a really nice third arm in the regular-season rotation. But, he has trouble keeping the ball in the park. Last season, he gave up 28 home runs in 31 starts. That is definitely his number one flaw.Â
Tanaka has built great chemistry with catcher Gary Sanchez and coaches seem very comfortable when heâ€™s in the game. He can pitch late into games, throw a nasty slider, and a downward moving splitter. Heâ€™s a pitcher that can climb to the top of most teams’ rotation and a really good arm to have in October.
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Should the Yankees retain James Paxton over Tanaka?
James Paxton was brought to the Bronx in a trade with the Seattle Mariners but hasnâ€™t lost a step. He has transitioned over to the big apple nicely and has shown flashes of ace quality pitching. His main criticism last year was he couldnâ€™t get out of the first inning without giving up runs. That showed in the playoffs as well. However, I donâ€™t think this will be a reoccurring issue. Adjustments have to be made with approach, but with the acquisition of new pitching coach Matt Blake, I think it will be cleaned up nicely.Â
Paxton has shown that he can get hitters out on the big stage and was someone that the Yankees needed to rely on down the stretch. It also helps that Paxton is lefty. Teams really like to have solid lefty pitchers in the rotation, and Paxton fills that spot. He is someone that I view as not in his prime yet and still has plenty of time to improve. His second half of the season was where he really shined and started to look like himself. Paxton can easily be pitching during All-Star Weekend at some point in the future.Â
Now, I think that we might see both of these players back in pinstripes next year, but with players like LeMahieu, Judge, and Torres expecting big money soon, that might not be the case. The Yankees are trying to win now, and having a player that can get stuff done when the game is on the line is really crucial.
Verdict: Masahiro Tanaka