Sounds like the New York Yankees knew what was coming when they elected to trade for Jameson Taillon and sign Corey Kluber.
The status of Masahiro Tanaka, a free agent, has been up in the air all offseason. And it now appears that his plan is to head back to Japan to pitch for the Rakuten Eagles.
From MLB.com’s Brian Hoch:
“Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-year run in Yankees pinstripes appears to be complete, with the right-hander reportedly advancing negotiations to remain in Japan and return to his original team, the Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball.
“According to a report published on Monday by Sankei Sports in Tokyo, Tanaka could receive a formal offer from the Eagles as early as this week.”
Most of this winter, Tanaka seemed likely to either sign with the Yankees or return to Japan. New York is in full-fledged cost-cutting mode — going so far as to trade Adam Ottavino and a prospect to the Boston Red Sox — so keeping Tanaka around at a high price had grown increasingly unlikely.
Losing Tanaka will hurt, but they Yankees’ recent moves will indeed add some depth. In addition to Taillon and Kluber, the Yankees have Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia and Michael King as rotation options.
A largely durable pitcher, Tanaka was a solid mid-rotation arm for the Yankees since arriving in New York ahead of the 2014 season. He’ll finish his Yankee career having made 174 appearances, all but one coming as starts, posting a 78-46 record with a 3.74 ERA.