When Masahiro Tanaka departed in free agency after the 2020 season, some New York Yankees fans were under the assumption there’d be a reunion down the road. At that point, the team had experienced notable financial losses due to the pandemic and weren’t willing to meet Tanaka’s demands.
He returned to his native Japan to play for his other former team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. What was believed to be a one- or two-year arrangement has now extended into Year 3, and hopes of him returning to the Bronx one day have diminished significantly (or at least it feels like that).
Tanaka just re-signed with Rakuten for another year, which will be his age-34 season, and it’s obvious he’s wasting away there. Over the last two seasons, he’s 13-21 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 48 starts (318.2 innings).
Only 13 wins with those numbers? And 21 losses?! The Golden Eagles finished 69-71-3 last year and 66-52-15 in 2021. They lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2021 and missed them altogether in 2022.
This is not what Masa deserves! And now that an old quote about his desire to return to the Yankees after a brief layover in Japan has surfaced, fans are even more upset.
Yankees fans are missing Masahiro Tanaka right about now
The Yankees don’t need Tanaka after securing Carlos Rodón and adding him to a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas … but it sure would’ve been nice if the team never acquired Montas.
That would’ve left a slot open for Tanaka and wouldn’t have had the Yankees feeling like they had to justify the trade with Oakland by slotting him into the back end of the 2023 rotation. Holding on to the prospects dealt to the A’s and saving them for a Bryan Reynolds trade and then importing Tanaka back as the fifth starter would’ve been … man, why are we doing this to ourselves?!
What’s done is done, but seeing Tanaka in New York over the holidays with new Met and fellow Japanese star Kodai Senga didn’t make fans feel any better.
Tanaka also reminded us a few weeks back that he loves tweets from Yankees fans still. None of this is helping!
The Japanese right-hander will always hold a special place in Yankees fans’ hearts, but it might be time to start officially start letting go after his recent decision to remain across the Pacific.