Analysis

Yankees: Have We Seen The Last of Masahiro Tanaka?

The Yankees are desperately in need of starting pitching this winter, but it seems unlikely that Masahiro Tanaka will wear pinstripes come 2021.

After seven years in pinstripes, it appears that Masahiro Tanaka’s tenure with the Yankees may be coming to a close.

What’s Stopping the Yankees from Re-Signing Him?

As Jeff Passan said on the Michael Kay Show, DJ LeMahieu is the Yankees’ main focus, and them bringing back LeMahieu may prevent the Bombers from having the available funds left over to bring Tanaka back to the Bronx, as well.

Also, some were already doubting a Tanaka return prior to the Yankees’ focus on LeMahieu. Due to Tanaka’s previous success, he may have been asking for a contract that the Yankees would’ve taken issue dishing out even without the priority of inking LeMahieu.

Tanaka’s Yankee Tenure

Tanaka has been with the Yankees since 2014, and overall, his career with New York has been quite the rollercoaster. He has a 3.74 ERA in 174 games. He also has a FIP of 3.91 and an xFIP of 3.52. Arguably Tanaka’s best season came back in 2016, where he spotted a 3.07 ERA in 199.2 innings. He only tallied 165 strikeouts, but kept his walks and home runs to a minimum, notching just a 0.99 HR/9, tied for a career-best.

Another key not with Tanaka is his postseason success, most notably from 2017-2018. In 2017, Tanaka allowed just two earned runs in 20 innings, while throwing five one-run innings in 2018. Overall, Tanaka is spotting a very solid 3.33 ERA in 10 postseason starts, striking out 44 batters in 54.0 innings.

Potential Rotation Replacements

Assuming Tanaka (and even James Paxton, for that matter), walk, the Yankees will have some holes to fill in their rotation.

One option is to go young and implement arms like Clarke Schmidt and Alexander Vizcaino. However, this is a risky route, as the young guns the Yankees currently have are unproven.

Another option, although I don’t think it’s likely, is for the Yankees to sign Trevor Bauer, the top starting pitcher on the free-agent market. With the Yankees being reluctant to spend on Tanaka, though, signing Bauer to a mega-deal seems far less likely.

Lastly, the Bombers can try and patch the rotation together with lesser free-agent starters and trades. Some names that come to mind are Jose Quintana, Rick Porcello, and Jake Odorizzi. Time will tell if the Yanks elect to follow any of these routes, assuming Tanaka is a goner.

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