Masahiro Tanaka opts-in to remainder of Yankees contract

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Masahiro Tanaka
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Masahiro Tanaka /

After a full season of speculation whether or not Masahiro Tanaka would opt-out of the remaining 3-years, $67 million on his contract with the Yankees, the 29-year-old right-hander has decided to stay with the club through 2020.

Finally, we can put the will he, won’t he to rest. On Friday evening, Masahiro Tanaka informed the Yankees that he’s decided not to exercise the opt-out in his contract.

Coming into this season, it was almost a lock that Tanaka would test the free agent waters — especially with the lack of quality top of the rotation type starters available this winter.

Unfortunately, for Tanaka’s bank account, the four-year veteran put together his least effective campaign in 2017, going 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA in 30 starts.

"“I have decided to stay with the Yankees for the next three seasons,” Tanaka said in a statement issued by the team. “It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization and for the wonderful fans of New York. I’m excited to continue to be a part of this team, and I’m committed to our goal of bringing a World Series championship back to the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees organization and the great fans of New York.”"

Though he ultimately went 8-5 with a 3.54 ERA down the stretch, highlighted by an impressive 15 strikeout performance in his final regular-season start against the Blue Jays on Sept 29, the career-high 35 home runs he allowed were a sign that something besides the partially torn UCL in his right elbow was disrupting his effectiveness.

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Perhaps it was the weight of his contract?

But then the playoffs began. And although he was no longer the clear-cut staff ace — that designation belongs to Luis Severino, Tanaka pitched brilliantly in three postseason starts, going 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA — racking up 18 strikeouts and only three walks in 20 innings.

Following the five scoreless frames he tossed against the Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS,  it once again looked like opting out was inevitable. Yet to the chagrin of many, Tanaka and his agent Casey Close, went the other way — saying all along, it wasn’t about the money.

At $22-23 million per season for three more years, Tanaka is a much better option than free agents Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. Each will be looking for a five or six-year contract worth upwards of $100 million.

For those that can’t get past Tanaka’s injury concerns, I understand your trepidation.

But every time a pitcher steps on the hill there is the possibility of disaster. And although Tanaka carries more risk than some, having him in the rotation moving forward makes the Yankees a better team than had they not.

Filling his slot with another young, nonestablished shooter was simply too big a gamble for a team on the hunt for a World Series title.

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Tanaka knows what it takes to succeed in the Big Apple. After a mostly disappointing ’17, he’ll look to carry over his postseason success into next year and reclaim his status as an elite pitcher. Look for him to put up many more W’s on his career 52-28 record for the Yanks.