Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka reveals free agency details in press conference


Former Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka would be open to returning to America.

Masahiro Tanaka’s long-rumored deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles became official this week, and though the former Yankee’s rumored “New York or Japan or Bust” mentality throughout the process was likely overblown, those did end up being the two most appealing options on the table.

The 32-year-old righty broke his “silence” on Friday in his “introductory” press conference with his new/old team in Japan, and shed light on how the process led him back home as the conquering hero.

Was a return trip to Rakuten his first choice? Tanaka didn’t mince words, admitting it wasn’t.

In fact, his preference, when free agency opened, was returning to the Yankees. Unfortunately, it became immediately clear that wasn’t going to happen.

Sentimentality has clouded our view of this transaction more than it did the Steinbrenners’, but it seems this ownership group has less than zero intention of surpassing the luxury tax threshold, instead valuing the reset ahead of free agency in 2021-22.

Quibble all you want (we will!), but it simply isn’t happening, even in a year of Gerrit Cole’s prime.

So, with that in mind, the two-for-one deal of Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber for Tanaka’s price is a no-brainer, as much as we love the Yankees’ former stalwart. If the luxury tax is going to operate as a hard-and-fast mandate, then Tanaka would’ve had to open up his scope from Day 1 of free agency, which it seems like he knew.

Is this the end of Tanaka’s Bronx tenure permanently? Well, that seems less like an open-and-shut case. The righty’s two-year deal in Japan will reportedly be reevaluated after this season, and Tanaka ackowledged he has “unfinished business” in the states.

Would that “unfinished business” happen to involve a ring stolen by the Astros’ chicanery?

Be honest. You could totally see the Yankees opening their arms back up to a 33-year-old Tanaka and saying, “No hard feelings!” once their tax penalty goes away (and following the completion of a potential new CBA).

GM Gerrit Cole would also likely be on board.

In conclusion, Yankees fans, you should follow 2021’s Rakuten games if you weren’t planning to. It could be a solid fact-finding mission for next year’s team.