March 11, 2013; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi (28) prior to the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cashman: Tanaka a 'Number 3' Starter

The New York Yankees threw a boatload of money at Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka with the hopes he could eventually be their ace. But right now, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is tempering expectations.

Cashman went on the “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN Radio Friday and said he viewed Tanaka as a No. 3 starter.

We view him to be a really, solid consistent No. 3 starter. If we do get more than that, all the better. He’s got a great deal of ability. There is definitely some unknown because of the transition. We scouted him extensively. Certainly, we look forward to adding him into the mix with the rest of our rotation. That’s what we look at him as: A solid, potential No. 3 starter in the big leagues.

Now, before Yankee fans get too concerned that hundreds of millions of dollars was thrown at a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher, consider a few things.

Cashman has no reason to come out and boast that the Yankees have a future ace. And frankly, he has no idea if they do.

Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan and has been touted by many — and doubted by others — as a potential future star in the big leagues. But he hasn’t even thrown a pitch in Spring Training yet, so Cashman doesn’t want to talk up his potential too much before the organization takes a closer look at him.

Another reason the team views him as a No. 3 starter is because right now, he probably is. Tanaka will likely slide into that spot to start the season behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda and in front of Ivan Nova and whomever earns the fifth and final rotation spot.

The Japanese import boasts an impressive split-finger fastball that should play well in the bigs along with a low-to-mid-90′s fastball.

We’ve seen imports like Yu Darvish come in and have success in the bigs. We’ve also seen plenty of failures that are all too familiar to Yankee fans. The transition is different for everybody, but what it does take is time. Right now, the Yankees just hope Tanaka can be that ‘solid, consistent No. 3 starter’ this season. Then from there, the team hopes he progresses and becomes an ace.

If he doesn’t and remains just a consistent No. 3? Well hey, nobody can say Cashman was wrong.

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Tags: Brian Cashman Masahiro Tanaka New York Yankees

  • Jimmy DeMarco

    If this is what you suggested, that Cashman doesn’t want to boast about Tanaka, then that’s fine. But, if Cashman truly believes that he’s a number 3 starter, it makes absolutely no sense, whatsoever that the Yankees got him.

    A few things: I don’t have to define what a 3 starter is or should be. Because there are a number of teams that have a number 3 guy that could easily be a one or two on most other clubs. But for the Yankees, hoping that CC just had an off year & Kuroda won’t have another late August, September collapse is a lot of hoping. And the Yankees easily could have signed Arroyo, who could win 10-15 games, have an ERA in the high 3′s to low 4 ‘s & definitely pitch 200+ innings, he pretty much has for quite some time now.
    And if we’re going to look into the future, past the 2014 season, Kuroda will be gone. And with pretty much every scout in baseball saying the Yankees don’t really have top of the rotation guys just sitting in wait, and the Yankees having less than slim to none chance of landing any of the big pitching FA next off season, I have a major issue with this statement. You don’t say it if you don’t at least think it, or believe it.

    Now, of course, Pineda could grab the 5th spot this year and begin to have the career that he was projected to have 3+ years ago. Ramirez, Banuelos and Nuno could all have huge seasons and next year all have a legitimate stake at being another possible top of the rotation guy. Nova could reach his full potential and put it all together and become a stud. De Paula and even Campos could shock the world & fly through the system and being possible candidates to at least get a look at next year. Now, I don’t believe for a second either will be close to ready in 2015, I’m just stretching a bit with those 2.

    I know it’s one season at a time. But, you have to look into the future somewhat when it comes to the Yankees. They have a ton of question marks all over the place, this season and beyond. And as I mentioned earlier, Kuroda is gone after this season, and what happens if CC of 2013 is the CC from now until his contract is up? We better hope that Tanaka isn’t just a #3 starter. Pineda is the real deal. Banuelos, Ramirez and or Nuno turn out to be solid starters for us. If not, we’re going to be in trouble.