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Yankees Rumors: Masahiro Tanaka Draws 'Strong Interest from Japan' for Contract

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2021

New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Free-agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees have been in "contact," but there "appears to be a good chance he pitches elsewhere."

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, there is "said to be strong interest in Japan and the likelihood of a much bigger deal there."

Andy Martino of SNY reported Sunday that Tanaka was seeking a one-year deal worth between $15 million-20 million and that "a reunion with the Yankees was unlikely."

It became even more unlikely after the team signed veteran starter Corey Kluber to a one-year, $11 million deal, likely solidifying the rotation around Gerrit Cole, Kluber, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia and Domingo German. Michael King and Clarke Schmidt are also options to make up the bottom of the rotation, though the team could add another option via free agency.

Martino added that the "San Diego Padres have been engaged with Tanaka's camp, but sources say those negotiations have not heated up. It remains a real possibility that Tanaka will return to Japan."

Tanaka, 32, signed a seven-year, $155 million with the Yankees in 2014, spending his entire MLB career with the club. He's gone 78-46 in that time, registering a 3.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 991 strikeouts across 173 starts. He helped the Yankees reach the postseason five times in his seven years with the team.

He was a steady force for the club in 2020, going 3-3 with a 3.56 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 48 innings (10 starts). But after seven productive years, it sounds like Tanaka's time in New York—and potentially the major leagues—is coming to a close.

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