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

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