There’s finally another suitor for Masahiro Tanaka other than the Yankees or the Rakuten Golden Eagles: the Padres.
In reality? They probably just sat perched in their kingdom in the Bronx doing very little and waiting for DJ LeMahieu. But the vibe has certainly shifted repeatedly surrounding the 32-year-old Tanaka’s potential return.
When the hurler left the mound in San Diego for the final time after struggling in the ALDS against Tampa Bay, it came with a sense of finality; we all wrote him off as a member of the 2021 roster.
But then, the offseason began to crawl, and it still hasn’t picked up its pace. Suddenly, Tanaka’s market and AAV seemed low enough that (potentially) he’d be available to the Yankees once more on a cheap one-year deal — at most, a two-year pact. The righty refuted rumors that emerged stating he was only weighing the Yankees or a return to Japan, but the tide had officially turned.
For the first time in ages on Wednesday, though, we received reports of a third possibility entering the fray: the San Diego Padres (aka the only living Major League Baseball team) doing background work on Tanaka, per Ken Rosenthal.
Hardly done shopping, the Pads are also eyeing former Yankee James Paxton, who’d be an excellent bounce-back candidate in the Bronx, too.
Tanaka’s postseason pedigree would fit at the back end of any apparent contender’s rotation, and the Padres have done more than any other team this offseason to ensure they’d be a part of such conversations, swiping Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Ha-Seong Kim, while falling just short of convincing Japanese righty Tomoyuki Sugano to abandon post and come stateside.
It would be only natural that the Padres would be interested in more additions, considering the rest of baseball remains interested in fewer.
And a two-year deal for Tanaka could create an impenetrable rotation in San Diego in 2022.
Weird! For many reasons. Namely, Mike Clevinger will miss the 2021 season. And goodbye, Chris Paddack? But also, yeah, the tweet’s whole vibe.
So, will the Yankees step up their pursuit of Tanaka and other pitching insurance in the coming weeks? Or will we soon salt the hurler away as another asset lost in this snoozeworthy DJ pursuit?