Extending These Three Yankees Should Be a Priority This Winter
The looming loss of the best player on the Yankees after next season is something many fans have yet to come to terms with. If Masahiro Tanaka doesn’t opt out of his current contract after 2017, it means something went terribly wrong, like TJ surgery wrong, because even after a mediocre season it is almost certain that he’ll be able to top the three years and $67 million remaining on his deal after his age 28 season.
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Much more likely, Tanaka continues to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the game next year, and lands something close to the $200 million-plus deals that Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke were able to land over the last two offseasons.
The Yankees know better than anyone the state of Tanaka’s elbow, so if they are willing to let him walk after 2017, they may have good reason to not want to invest big money in a guy who may be damaged goods.
However, assuming he has successfully rehabbed the partial tear that caused him to miss a large chunk his first MLB season in 2014, it would be very hard to let a front-of-the-rotation starter in his prime just walk away without a fight. There are very few aces in MLB, and they are not easy to acquire. If you’ve got one in your organization, all measures should be taken to keep him, especially when you are the richest team in baseball.
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Maybe tacking another two to three years and bumping his average annual value up from $22-23 million to $25 million would be enough to get it done? That would be something like five and $125 or six and $150, which is considerably less than Tanaka’s value on the open market, but does protect him against a devastating injury this year. I think both sides would at least consider that deal.