Righty Masahiro Tanaka refuted reports that he’s down to the Yankees and a return to Japan.
After weeks of acceptance that righty Masahiro Tanaka wouldn’t return to the Yankees, and the team would have to find innings-eaters elsewhere, a report that emerged just before the new year seemed to change the trajectory.
According to the latest rumblings, Tanaka’s expected AAV had lowered to the point where he was now only considering a return to the Bronx or a more far-reaching return to Japan to (likely) close out his career with his old team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Strange, right? We’d all sort of tacitly acknowledged Tanaka’s departure at the end of the postseason, assuming a team on the verge of contention (Mets on line one) would overpay for his services (two years and $36 million, perhaps?). But suddenly, it seemed like a Phillies-JT Realmuto situation, with a reunion likely coming with the Yankees once DJ LeMahieu’s situation had settled in either direction.
Well, not exactly. Tanaka released a statement at week’s end that indicated reports of his return could’ve been premature.
Would you like us to translate that for you? Yes? Totally understand, happy to help.
As Tanaka wrote late Friday:
"“Some media outlets have reported that they have no choice but to play for the Yankees or Japan about their future, but that’s not the case. At this stage, we are not limiting the teams we want to play next season, but we are thinking from all the teams that are interested in us.”"
That seems more like it. After all, there are certainly teams that might be willing to act sooner and can use all the pitching they can muster, like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, if Trevor Bauer doesn’t choose them.
Yankees fans are surely hoping Tanaka takes his time; Barstool’s Eric Hubbs used Google Translate to tell #TANAK to “please wait”.
Yankees fans might not realize what they’ve got with Tanaka until he’s gone, especially if they don’t act to replace him this offseason.
It’s probably in the team’s best interest to hope that they’re able to work out the financial terms — as well as keep Gerrit Cole’s bromance alive for another year.