Yankees: How can the Yankees dump Masahiro Tanaka?

Masahiro Tanaka (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Masahiro Tanaka (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

The Yankees, at the end of this season, will receive a terse text message from Casey Close that says one of two things; “We’re staying or we’re going.” What can the organization do to ensure that Tanaka opts out? Because they need to.

The Yankees have dealt with money issues before, most recently with players like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, who under any other circumstances would have been shown the door long before their contracts expired.

In fact, they’re dealing with another one currently with Jacoby Ellsbury and the remaining portion of the $153 million they signed up to pay him. They’ll eventually figure that one out too and, at some point, if there are no other takers, will release him bidding a not so fond adieu to his future endeavors.

But the case of Masahiro Tanaka goes beyond just money. And that’s mainly because the Yankees aren’t in the driver’s seat on this one, Tanaka is.And that’s by virtue of the opt-out clause in the contract he signed with the Yankees when he agreed to apply his talents in the United States.

For the Yankees, if they wish to close the door on the past and move forward, removing Tanaka is a necessity.

He was hired to be the ace of the Yankees starting staff, and for three years (arguably), he was, if not by default due to the lack of anyone else the Yankees had at the time to assume the role.

Circumstances have changed, though, and regardless of the miserable season Tanaka has had, the writing on the wall says the team has at least one replacement in Luis Severino and probably a few others in their minor league system ready to assume the role in due time.

Bottom line, the Yankees don’t want Tanaka, and they don’t need him. Watch Joe Girardi try to put a spin on what we can all see with our eyes.

And I’d be interested to hear from Yankees fans on the Yanks Go Yard Facebook page, but I’m guessing that most Yankees fans can’t see this guy leaving town soon enough. Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi, and Hal Steinbrenner are another story, and we don’t get to peek into their thinking.

But if the Yankees indeed want to dump Tanaka, how can they accomplish it?

Package him up and send him on his way

The most convenient method for the disposing of Tanaka is to trade him after the deadline when the wavier line is open and ready for deals that couldn’t be made before July 31. A good deal of behind the scenes work by Cashman is required to make this happen.

The first thing Cashman would need to do is line up a suitor on the West Coast with a team or two presenting Tanaka with the opportunity to be 3,000 miles closer to home as his career draws to an end.

That shouldn’t be too difficult when you consider that both the Dodgers and Seattle are currently active in the market for any one of the top tiered starters now being offered. And in a worst case, the Angels always seem to have money to burn.

And from there, Cashman would need to sweeten the pot with a quality prospect as a throw-in. Easier said than done. No doubt, but it’s one of few alternatives the Yankees have.

Make his life miserable

The problem with this one is the Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race, and they are reluctant to do anything that would jeopardize their chances.

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But if the Yankees were, for example, to remove Tanaka from the rotation replacing him with Luis Cessa or perhaps, a Sonny Gray (we’ll see), and then thrust him into the bullpen as the long relief guy, then the Yankees could say, “How do you like them apples?”

Radical, you say. Of course, it is. But again, considering the limited options, the organization has if their intention is to see Tanaka applying his elsewhere next season, then maybe not so radical. And they’ll probably get some loud phone calls from the Player’s Union, but so what?

A hope and a prayer

The only other option open to the team, unless Tanaka surprises everyone, opts out, leaving millions on the table, is for the Yankees to stay with him, hoping against hope that this season is merely a hiccup.

That scenario would clearly be the best outcome, except that given the number of innings Tanaka has hurled over the past ten years and since he was only eighteen, countermands the probability factor that could happen.

More than likely, Tanaka has reached a wall in his career the Yankees have no need to watch him try to climb over. Is he, for instance, CC Sabathia and does he have the ability or even desire to become a finesse pitcher in the twilight of his career.

It’s Cashman’s job to convince one team because that’s all it takes, that Tanaka has more in his tank and this season has only been an aberration and not the design of his future.

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That’s a tall order given what every team has seen this year. But for the Yankees, if they wish to close the door on the past and move forward, it’s a necessity.