Masahiro Tanaka sends heartfelt message to fans after Yankees playoff loss

Oct 7, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) is relieved in the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during game three of the 2020 ALDS at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) is relieved in the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during game three of the 2020 ALDS at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka may have just played his final games with the Bombers.

The New York Yankees’ playoff exit was as demoralizing as it gets, and the sad part was that Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-year journey in the Bronx will officially come to an end. His contract expires once the postseason comes to a close and he’s hinted on several occasions that there’s a chance he may not be back with the franchise.

“Playoff Tanaka” was no more in 2020 after two disastrous outings against the Cleveland Indians (perhaps not his fault because of the horrific weather management by MLB) and the Tampa Bay Rays. But fans are still upset that those two outings could be the last they see of the Japanese right-hander.

Tanaka is certainly down on the idea as wel, based on his emotional posts on social media, but his latest thanks the fans and expresses sadness that he was unable to pitch in front of thousands every week.

Sad. Just sad. It’s been yet another draining season for Yankees fans, and now we’re heading into an offseason that could see the team lose Tanaka, James Paxton, Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu, among others who we can perhaps expect to get traded.

On a positive note, Tanaka and LeMahieu returning are the most likely options. The Yankees cannot afford to lose another top starting pitcher, especially during an offseason that will feature so few high-profile free agents … and Trevor Bauer is NOT coming to the Bronx, guys.

Unless Tanaka has other plans to return to Japan and finish his career there, we have to think the most likely outcome is he’ll be back with the Yanks in 2021. It’s the only MLB team he’s ever known and he’s carved out a legacy for one of the most successful franchises in sports history.

It simply cannot end this way. After all Tanaka’s been through in the Bronx, the Yankees cannot leave this story unfinished. Though Tanaka’s been treating it like it’s his last hurrah, if we’re going to remain optimistic about one thing, it’s his potential return. And we’ll likely know for sure in a few short weeks.