Free-agent righty Masahiro Tanaka could be nearing a return to his native Japan, as a report from Sankei Sports — and translated here by Jim Allen — indicates that the Rakuten Eagles are preparing to make an offer. Tanaka does not appear to have closed off the possibility of returning to MLB entirely, but Allen suggests that the Eagles “appear to be the leading contender” to sign the longtime Yankees righty. Tanaka played for the Eagles from 2007 to 2013.
Tanaka’s stay in New York was an unmitigated success. Over seven years, he posted a 3.74 ERA/3.91 ERA with a 47.5 percent groundball rate, 23.1 percent strikeout rate, and 4.8 percent walk rate over 1,054 1/3 innings. He made two All-Stars teams and had been nails in the postseason before two rough playoff starts in 2020. Many assumed that he would just return to the Yankees this winter, but New York has thus far moved in a different direction with the additions of Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. Meanwhile, there has been very little buzz regarding a return to pinstripes for Tanaka.
That said, if Tanaka desires to stay in the States, he should have no trouble finding a home. The 32-year-old’s track record makes him one of the top starters left on the market. Our free agent predictions had Tanaka as the No. 10 free agent on the market – the top starting option remaining after NL Cy Young Trevor Bauer. Teams have been slow to dole out money this winter, however, which could certainly play a role in Tanaka looking elsewhere for a place to pitch in 2021.
Half an elbow left. Amazing he was as good as he was here. Don’t believe anyone wanted him at 15m. Yanks got both Taillon and Kluber combined for less. Hopefully one of the two can pitch every fifth day.
Well clearly his half an elbow wasnt effecting his results on the field. Not really that amazing he was that good in the MLB either. Yankees signing two injury prone pitchers for a guy who was rarely injured may cost them.
Just because his elbow hasn’t affected his results so far doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. If the team believes he will need TJ in the future it makes no sense to pay for it. Frankly every pitching contract should come with the John lackey clause where if you get TJ the next year contract becomes 1 million.
Thank you Dr. Marcus Welby one and all
I think if you were right (that all contracts should come with that clause), then it would happen. But that is purely in the best interest of the team and not the players. So it shouldn’t be that way is what I’m saying.
Tanaka chickens out. Flies the coop to the, checks notes, ahem, Eagles.
I don’t necessarily see it that way. He’s proven he can compete at the highest level. It has to be hard living in a country – for seven years, no less – where less than 1% of people speak your native language. This isn’t the same as an American going to Germany, Italy, or South Korea, where people make a distinguished effort to learn a second language (and its usually English). Here, nobody learned Japanese.
So he’s proven he can pitch in the MLB, and he can be one of the top-10 pitchers while doing so. Now he’s looking at making the same amount of money – or more – back home. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Maybe a Top 10 pitcher in the AL East but Tanaka has never been a Top 10 pitcher in MLB, not even close.
Actually he’s been top 10 in several tracked leaderboards over the years. Also a Cy-7. Solid underrated starter.
Fangraphs disagrees. In 2016, he ranked 10th in fWAR among qualified starters. He ranked 7th in the Cy Young voting that year.
Dorothy is probably referring to his career, not a single year.
Dorothy said “never.”
Wow. What an amazing pitcher he’ll be there is soon to be seen.
Tallion says his stuff looks better then it did before the second TJS. Revamped his delivery, said he will be working more four seamers. He could be the next Charlie Morton
While the best shape of life trope reigns true in his comments… a healthy taillon had very real “stuff” prior to his layoff. Couple with being away from Pittsburgh/searage could pay off with pitching high fastballs and low breakers.
Player announces he’s going to have a great comeback season in January. News at 11.
Jan-Mar is renowned for players being in the best shape of their lives. You ought to read some of the stories about Benintendi.
Yeah… and as a Cardinals fan they have said this stuff about Matt Carpenter (about him getting a better off-season routine or something and how he is going to rebound) for the last 2 off seasons. There always going to tell you this, it could very well be true, but do you think there going to tell everyone that he looks bad?
If you would’ve told me before the season that Tanaka was going to sign with the Eagles, I would’ve said… they were that tired of Wentz?
@Rangers29 and they’d probably be better off with Tanaka at QB too.
Still have a soft spot for Nick at QB
Bring back Cunningham !
When you think Cunningham played? The 60s?
This has got to be laziest response in the history of communication. What should I expect from this generation though?
If Boomer still has his arm and some mobility, he’d be worth giving a shot too! LOL
Cunningham’s son had played QB in high school, but track & field was his thing.
Hey Boomer still talks a good game
It’s an odd type of thing, but I am not sure they can even bring back Hurts. If Hurts returns, there will be controversy on Day 1. I’m a Raiders fan, so I admit to bias, but they should trade Hurts to the Raiders, and draft someone in the 4th/5th that will count as a project, but not as a threat.
I’m not that into NFL, watch it casually sometimes so I don’t really know what your talking about. Why don’t you think they can bring back Hurts?
not terribly shocking
I’m surprised the Twins or the Angels didn’t sign Tanaka. Maybe he wanted too much money? One would think a 3/$36 to a 3/$40 year deal would be appropriate for him. His elbow issues are behind him.
Supposedly he was open to a one year deal north of $15M. That seems quite reasonable in a world where Kluber received $11M, Richards $10M and Happ $8M. Tanaka is always above league average and can give a team 175 innings. There’s a market for him, but perhaps not the market he wants.
Yeah I’m surprised about angels, I’d rather have him than inconsistent bauer
Yeah, I get that, but he said he wanted the Yankees or to return home. I don’t blame him given NYY is the only organization he’s known here in the states the seven years he’s lived here. Probably doesn’t want to start over, and I get that. Plus, I think with the advantage of fame and fortune, an opportunity to return home and play amongst friends, family, and in front of your country, it’s quite appealing.
How do you know his elbow issues are behind him? Do you have his medical records? How many times do elbow issues just go away? lol
Dumb question but I’ll ask anyway: Does anyone know for sure if Japan is one of the countries that is known for advancements in stem cell procedures?
From person interactions with patients who have flown to other countries and explored these procedures, they are highly effective. Maybe this hiatus will also allow for such a procedure, without scrutiny from MLB, and then he’ll finish out on a fully restored elbow.
His tear was really tiny. None of the specialists recommended immediate surgery. Only the internet elbow experts did.
He’s had 4 years of a ERA+ of 102. At age 32, he doesn’t feel like a good bet for three years. He’s pretty similar to Odorizzi, and I wouldn’t have liked to give him three years either.
Masahiro was pretty good and quite durable during his tenure with the Yankees. We appreciate him and wish him luck in retirement!
Tanaka calls Cole, “They took back Gardy?!!! Even the Eagles …..”
Ducky Buckin Fent
Man, when he first got to MLB he was something else. Before that UCL tear – when he could still run that 4 seamer up to 97 – he was one of the most dominant pitchers I’ve watched.
I know wins are passe but you could see why he won 30-some straight games at that point in his career. With a cartoon level split finger & a good slider, curve, cutter, sinker, etc he was just so unhittable so many nights.
We only got to see part of a summer of him at his height. But – jeeez, he was good.
People will say he wasn’t impacted by the tear in his elbow, but I do believe there was a reduction in the quality of his pitches, but he nevertheless remained quite good throughout his contract.
The biggest concern teams might have is he seemingly has lost command of his greatest weapon — his splitter. Credit to him that he was able to substitute his slider and remain effective. The man knows how to pitch.
Even if he returns to Japan, I suspect we have not seen the last of Tanaka in MLB. Perhaps even a return to the Yankees post Covid and after the Yankees reset their luxury tax rate. It seems both sides wanted a reunion, but the finances just couldn’t work.
Ducky Buckin Fent
I think he certainly was.
Not only did he lose pretty significant velocity off of his 4 seamer, he also threw it a lot less. When he had the tools to survive in the upper part of the zone with his 4 seam FB & cut FB & destroy you in the bottom half with his slider, sinker, & curve he presented a nearly unsolvable equation for batters.
He was really, really good.
But – yeah.
Super cerebral pitcher, man. I loved watching him as every game he threw was a mild re-invention on his part. He’d figure out what he had working for him that day & build his game plan accordingly.
& in the postseason you had to look away as the sun reflecting off of his brass one’s was blinding.
He’s on my Forever Cool With Me, list. I’d love to see him back in Pinstripes.
Yeah, that’s the only bit of confusion I have… Kluber and Tallion I get, but at the expense of Tanaka? I’m not entirely sure. I know, I know, CBT… ugh.
Wait does he have a ring? That’s right no he doesn’t so while I understand fans being sorry to see him go I wouldn’t quite call it at the expense of anyone. Simply put his price tag is too high at this point for what he’ll provide. I appreciate everything he gave to the team and wish him good luck, that’s baseball.
Yeah, you’re right, and my position in the beginning was to let him walk and acquire pitching. I just didn’t think it would be two reclamation projects. Don’t get me wrong, Cash could turn out to look like a genius, and I’m really happy with the Tallion trade, but they do need a solid, true number two.
DBF. If you’re gonna crush on a ballplayer then go for it.
Maybe he’ll be back, but my impression is that NYY are committed to getting under CBT and they might see some risk in Tanaka.
IMO FOs never got comfortable with the arm injury and are waiting for the bad news that always seems to be right around the corner. The saying goes ‘better give up on him a year too early rather than a year too late” I really think that’s happening here.
Yankee Clipper- you want NYY to get a solid #2. Your postings show that ur their #2
He was something. I recall seeing him return and how tentative he was, thinking there’s no way he would be the same. He wasn’t, but he was just about as close as one could get. They lucked out with him. If you think about it, didn’t he and Smellsburry score the same contracts, just about? Wow, what a difference!
Since his debut in 2014 through 2020, he ranks 6th in fWAR in the AL and 19th in fWAR in the majors. He earned his money.
I think returning to Japan now would be good timing for him.
C’mon, Blue Jays. If you’re not going to sign Bauer, hurry up and sign Tanaka.
It’s a shame the yanks played cheap this year. No fans? True… other revenue streams? Plenty… Tanaka should have been resigned… one year and an option.
It’s part being cheap, it’s part them wanting to stay under the CBT threshold. The free-spending days of George are long gone. That said, I agree that they should have tried for another salary dump to re-sign Tanaka. Seems like a surer thing than taking big risks on Taillon and Kluber. Higher ceilings with the latter, for sure, but if they bomb or get hurt again, Yankees will probably finish 2nd, maybe even 3rd in the AL East.
Thanks to COVID this is the rare case where he’ll just simply get more money in Japan. Sugano got 4 yrs, $40mm. Sure Tanaka will surpass that and have the necessary opt outs as well. He’ll be back in the States in a year. He’s a good pitcher. A bit of a shame Yankees are being cheap.
The Yankees have spent up to the luxury tax threshold, signing DJ and Kluber, while adding Taillon via trade. In no way, shape or form are they being cheap this offseason.
Sugano is going to make 7.5M$ plus incentives next year in NPB.
Exactly, 7.5 x 4 (carry the 1, add the 0…) is fort… no, no, hang on, I’ll be right back
Lol, for the record when the contract was reported, it was somewhat backloaded. I remember it being something like $7.5 mil, $9.5, $11.5, $11.5, with every year being a player option so he can join the MLB if he receives a good offer.
It’s worth noting that while Japanese baseball contracts are not public and not necessarily accurately reported. With that in mind, Sugano’s $7.5 million salary for the next year is already the highest on record. This is a great time for Tanaka to return. He’s still good enough to take home Japan’s equivalent of the Cy Young, gets to return to his home country and team, and can still make over half of what he would get in the US in the process. Seems like a heck of a fallback option if he couldn’t find the money he wanted with an MLB team.
Another foreign pitcher who was exposed after coming to the states. He had his moments where he was good but nowhere near as great as he was advertised to be with his “Can’t Hit” pitches.
Check the postseason stats. Before 2020 he was in the conversation for best postseason pitcher ever. 1.57 ERA over 46 IP. He’ll be missed, whether he lost something or not.
Tanaka was an effective number 2 starter for his entire career, while pitching in a hitter’s paradise. I have a suspicion that had he went to a team with a better pitcher’s park, he would be viewed as an ace for much of his career.
Foreign pitcher exposed? Where do you come up with these things? He’s probably one of the most successful if not most successful foreign pitcher. Who are the American pitchers coming into the league and dominating for 7 years? HOFs so you’re saying Tanaka isn’t a HOF. Apparently you don’t know this but mlb has the best hitters in the world and the more exposure a guy gets the less effective he becomes.
TANAKA IS NOT… I REPEAT NOT A HOF PLAYER! NOT EVEN CLOSE!
No, he’s not a Hall of Famer (you can probably count on one hand players that are after just 7 seasons). And no, he’s not the most successful foreign pitcher of all time. He’s not even the most successful of his era (Yu Darvish comes to mind immediately but I am guessing there are others). But you don’t need those superlatives to be a great ball player. Tanaka was a great ball player, dependable, delivered it when it counted. Was he worth his contract? Probably not. But I don’t think anyone would argue it was a bad contract per se. And I agree that if you put him in a pitcher’s park this conversation is much different. He always had a low WHIP, with an inflated ERA because of his tendency to give up the long ball. Take away a few of those homers and I think his surface level stats improve dramatically. He was a great Yankee, regardless.
He may not have been as good as advertised, but he was very effective and consistent. Probably the 2nd-best Japanese player to come over.
Needs to be said, but this story leaking could simply be an attempt to get one of the MLB teams he’s talking with to up their offer. Teams know the Yankees aren’t in on him, so they may be trying to lowball Tanaka and this is one way his agent may be trying to move his market.
Or it’s exactly as it appears. Tanaka is bigger than anyone in Japanese baseball today. I’m sure he can get a nice dollar amount to pitch at home, work to re-establish his split that he’s had difficulty with the last two seasons, and perhaps return to MLB in 2022 after the world, hopefully, returns to normal.
Come to Toronto and win a championship.. come on, do it… do it.
Shouldn’t be that hard, right? I mean, there’s only one team playing…. am I right?
Nobody won it last year, so it must be hard.
I love how Toronto fans are Jonsin so bad to get injured highly paid pitchers to sign with them. Known damaged elbow ligament, who cares I just want the team to do something!!!! If he ends up injured I’ll just call the team cheap for not signing someone else equally as expensive!
For a 1-year contract you’re hot and bothered by it? Get a grip. The guy’s had elbow damage for many years and has pitched effective enough to warrant another MLB contract.
Bochys Retirement Fund
Can someone get Arte Moreno on the line? I have a few words for him.
I think the Angels will pass on him to get Bauer. If they pass on Bauer though, then they would really need Tanaka.
Thanks for the insightful comments Robbie, I’m guessing you’re earning a living in a think tank somewhere on the west coast. Btw, the world has never been “normal.”
I seem to remember that in the first year of his contract with the Yankees, he had arm trouble and used PRP treatment. I never thought he would pitch as long as he did and do well with what he had without a surgery.
With the Angels’ luck, they’ll sign him and he’ll have that surgery.
Yes, you are.
Not a bad idea at all on Tanaka’s part to go home to Japan for a year or two then make his MLB return when teams are willing to spend again
Saynora never a big fan of Tanaka
You must be a fan of one of the teams Tanaka has demolished in the playoffs.
Rakuten “Golden” Eagles!
Can Philly just take a flyer on him please
I’d be surprised if Tanaka doesn’t resign with the Yankees. They need him in that rotation.
If they’re stating under the $210 I don’t see how that’s possible.
Eat em Up
Wild to me that this guy can’t find a team in the MLB, you can make the argument he is the second best starter on the market. You’d think there’d be a team that would come up with a suitable deal for a player of his quality.
He is Japanese, so I imagine that he would like to finish his career in his home country. He has already made enough in America that he doesn’t have to worry about money. Good for him for leaving on his own terms.
Eat em Up
No doubt, I expected him to return to Japan at some point, but not yet. He is still good enough to pitch in the MLB, and there are more than enough teams that need pitching, that you’d think he should be able to find a job.
It’s hard to believe fans don’t understand the risk of signing a pitcher with known elbow problems. Oh wait it’s not hard to believe fans don’t understand that.
Gotta watch out for those elbow injuries that allow you to start 154 games regular season games and 10 mores postseason starts.
Definitely should have had the surgery lolol
Eat em Up
Someone could give this man a 2 year $25-30 mil contract. At that length, the risk is minimal, the potential reward is worth it. His track record speaks for itself.
He’s gonna be able to play baseball and make his promised salary in its entirety overseas, not a given here. Lockout almost guaranteed next year, this season could still start late with payroll implications, teams obviously not interested in spending any money right now with winning teams trading off expensive pieces to save money. He did what he had to do here. He proved that he was a major league pitcher. If he retires today, he goes in the books as an excellent major leaguer he represented his country well and made enough money to make sure his great-grandkids are wearing Versace or whatever rich people will wear in 2100.
I think the Cubs or Cards signing him would have created a favorite in a suddenly weak division, with St. Louis benefitting more. Especially if Yadi’s back in the fold.
Just my two cents, but whatever happens, I enjoyed having Tanaka in the MLB, so sir, best of luck.
Phillies 2017, as a Cubs fan I’d love to have Tanaka . Seems like it won’t happen with trading off Darvish . Hendricks Darvish Tanaka would have been a nice playoff rotation . Sign Bauer and it would have been very dominate . In weak division he would put Cubs over the top
Maximum his contract will probably be is about 8M$ in Japan per year….hard to believe no major league club was willing to beat that.
It’s also player preference. Say he got your $8 million from Japan and $10-12 million from an MLB team. For a guy that’s made well over $100 million in his career, he may just want to go back to his native country while he’s still reasonably effective.
Sugano just got a $10M AAV with opt outs after each season. Tanaka is a bigger star in Japan and likely still a better pitcher. He’ll be compensated quite nicely, especially if he’ll take a one year deal.
Dutch Vander Linde
The Yankees are going to regret not signing Tanaka when Kluber and Taillon hit the DL next season.
I don’t mind if the Hal puts a budget on the team. But every move has to weighed with this in their mind. So trading for Stanton AND signing Cole, probably not too smart if you’re penny pinching. Can someone sign Cash and Hal up for some basic level accounting classes?
Accounting classes? For what? Yankees are not concerned about money
It’s like that scene from Stipes:
What coordinates, sir? -Coordinates?
Yes, sir. They determine where the mortar’s–
Soldier, the Army has spent a lot of money teaching you how to fire that.
Now set it and fire it.
Just plug and play and let the chips fall where they may
The pitching rotation looks like Cole, Kluber, Taillon, Montgomery and Garcia to start the season. You have German as a 6th guy and Severino returning in June. I would suggest that rotation is better than any in the AL.
In a dream world, yes, but this is reality.
It could easily be a disaster.
So are you’re saying that you can bettet run a multi-billion dollar organization?
I don’t think he got any offers to his liking which is strange considering there are clubs tat could use him..
Tanaka was the consummate pro as a Yankee. That said, he is not worth 15-20 million dollars which seems to be his asking price. Wish him well back in Japan and enjoyed watching him for the 7 years he represented the pinstripes.
Yankee Mike , Tanaka 15 million not greater than Kluber at 11 million ? I believe Yankees will regret decision.
Tough call, but I tend to agree with you Tanaka has been dependable, but has a ERA+ of 102 over the past 4 years. Kluber has a higher ceiling, but will he reach the 12-13 wins that Tanaka usually supplies?
A real professional, and a quality talent. The effort was always there, he wasn’t a prima donna, and he was very effective, if not a #1.. Going to miss him.
Padres number 4 starter
He wants to fly like an eagle.
Good fit for the Jays. But, must be a great feeling to potentially go back home – best of luck to MT.
I was hoping the White Sox were going to get him. A front four of Giolito, Lynn, Keuchel, and Tanaka for the playoffs stacks up pretty well against almost anyone. Unfortunately, Reinsdorf is still cheap and probably thinks that this team is good enough as is to take on the Dodgers and Padres. Sox have a shot, but would probably be 2:1 underdogs against either.
They have younger starters like Cease and Kopech so they wanna give them a shot. If anything they need outfield depth
Tanaka is not an elite performer but he can throw quality innings. That is not a highly paid pitcher in the big leagues anymore.
But he wants to get paid.
I’m not buying the “teams lost so much money@ when Drew Smyly get $11 million, Corey Kluber gets $10, and Charlie Morton gets $14. Hendriks got over $50 million while Brad Hand got a shade more than the option all 30 teams passed on.
We’ve heard since March how devastating the pandemic was going to be for owners, but file that under excuse more than reality.
I agree. They act like fans in the stands were the only source of income for these owners. Much more too it than that.
The loss of fan-related revenue was no doubt huge, but that is countered by a huge drop in expenses.
I’m a Mets fan, and wouldn’t have minded seeing him join the team- if baseball is going to play a 162 (or even 144) game schedule, teams are going to have be creative with their pitching during the regular season, so the more arms the better. And, I’d love to have had him as a post season option.
Having said that- seems to me he fit the Angels and Blue Jay’s perfectly.
Maybe teams are waiting on Bauer?
Tanaka agree with JPB Rakuten. Source:https://www.sponichi.co.jp/baseball/news/2021/01/28/kiji/20210128s00001173275000c.html
His abilities work well in MLB, and I personally expected him to play in MLB.
Tanaka has no choice but to leave MLB because of the strange FA situation in MLB.
MLB teams should negotiate for good players.