What should the Yankees do with Masahiro Tanaka? 22


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The Yankees don’t have to think about who is going to be the ace of the rotation next year. Everyone is well aware the leader of the pack is Masahiro Tanaka. But what about after the 2017 season?

When Tanaka signed the seven-year, $155 Million deal, there was one glaring clause in the contract: Tanaka could opt-out of the deal after the 2017 season. Tanaka would earn $22 Million in 2017, but he would walk away from a $67 Million deal from years 2018 to 2020.

So what could the Yankees do with Tanaka between now and the end of next season?

1. Trade Him

It seems like the least likely option since the Yankees are contending next season. But if they know for a fact they’re not going to be able to lock him up, then they should try to trade him and add to the farm system. If the Yankees were to put Tanaka on the market this winter, the price would be excruciatingly high, so the Yankees would have the upperhand on a team that is desperate for elite starting pitching.

2. Extend Him

This is a route the Yankees usually avoid. The team simply refuses to offer extensions in the middle of a current contract (unless your name is Brett Gardner). Yes, the Yankees offered extensions to CC Sabathia and even Alex Rodriguez in past, but they had already opt out of their deal which technically made them free agents. The Yankees could try to extend a deal with their ace, but I think they would rather wait until the end of the season before signing him (I’ll explain that more in a moment).

3. Do Nothing

The Yankees know the opt-out clause is there. Masahiro Tanaka knows the opt-out clause is there. Do both sides simply ignore it for the time being and let Tanaka pitch for the Yankees as if there are no distractions? Seems extremely possible. It’s also possible Tanaka decides to stay, which would further the ‘do nothing’ plan on the Yankees end.

4. Re-Sign Him

This scenario would involve Tanaka opting out of his contract, but like Sabathia and Rodriguez, it could be a formality of Tanaka wanting more money from his first Major League team. It’s money the Yankees have. Its money the Yankees should be willing to give him.

Re-signing him seems like the most likely option, but with the 2017 offseason merely a year away, we don’t have to worry about the possibility of losing Tanaka–yet.


22 thoughts on “What should the Yankees do with Masahiro Tanaka?

  • Peter

    I think the best move is not to do anything until 2017 is nearly complete. Let's see how the Yankees do this coming season and how the rest of their pitchers – Major League and Triple A.

  • Jason

    Trade him for Kyle schwabberr. Trade top 3-4 prospects not named Sanchez or Torres for goldschmidt. Sign machado and harper next year.

    • Delia Enriquez Post author

      The Yankees aren’t touching their top prospects in the farm system. Not unless they can get something better in the farm.

      • Mark

        Schwarber is a stud. Yanks need power, and someone who can give them good at-bats. Schwarber doesn't want to play for NY, and I'd be wary of dealing with Epstein in a situation where he's got the upper hand.

  • Balt Yank

    Well, if the Yankees trade him next season will be truly tiresome. That being said, if he can be traded for a major league ready starter who can pitch 200 innings plus prospects, why not, and let's trade McCann too for Babe Ruth, and trade Ellsbury for Ricky Henderson age 26. I say let Tanaka pitch next year and if he opts out, let him walk. His current contract is an extreme risk considering his elbow. More money…insane.

  • enter42

    You have to hold on to this guy. If he has a similar season to last, he'll want to tack on a year or 2. He's a super solid citizen and great teammate. His elbow makes it iffy but do the Yanks have a choice? He's clearly got the upper hand with the Yanks not having a wealth of solid, veteran pitching. So is the clock ticking on Pineda yet? The guy has had every opportunity to emerge as a front of the rotation guy but hasn't done so. I would've kept Nova and made Pineda available at the deadline.

      • Mark

        I've got a feeling that if he's pitching behind some offense, he'll be different. He was inconsistent last season but he's got some great stuff, doesn't seem to tire. He relies too much on his fastball – according to Fan Graphs he's actually got four pitches, but throws mostly FBs and Sliders. He threw change-ups only 8% of the time. If Sanchez can get him to mix it up a bit – which a lead once in a while might compel him to do – I can see him winning 14-16 games, throwing 200+ pitches, and having at worst a league-average ERA

        • Rob Abruzzese

          He had a 2.87 ERA in April, a 2.91 ERA in May, a 4.12 ERA in June, a 2.45 ERA in July, a 3.00 ERA in August and a 2.70 ERA in September. One not-even-bad month of June makes him inconsistent? His ERA plus was 142, which means he's 42 percent better than league-average.

  • Terry

    Ideally, you would never trade a pitcher like him if you consider yourself a contender. Build a team around him that can be a force in the AL and I think he stays. This guy is cut from a different cloth. A warrior with integrity and honor. It would not surprise me , if you built a team around him, for him not to even exercise his option. Don't trade him please

    • Delia Enriquez Post author

      Personally what I’d do is a mix of 3 and 4. Do nothing this year, he might opt out, he might not. If he doesn’t, then that’s the end of that. If he does, then you re-sign him. 1 and 2 were just other routes the Yankees could explore, but seem unlikely.

  • Jerry

    I'm with Terry and enter42, we are in dire straits without Tanaka, no two ways about it. Class act who can pretty much dictate what he wants. Yes, the elbow is a major concern and eventually will need surgery.( So we've been told). He's also the type of guy who would make it all the way back. Pitching is at such a premium you have to bite the bullet on this one. I would start to negotiate now to see what he's thinking and get it done. Be proactive on Tanaka.

  • Otto

    Option one trade him. Get more top their young talent. If he opts out which he will then attempt to re sign him. Unless you are signing Cespedes Chapman, Melancon and Edwen then I trade home maybe get another 2 top ten prospects. Possibly package Ellsbury but that probably will not happen.

  • Les Schraeder

    What the Yankees SHOULD do is to enter into negotiations with Tanaka ASAP to get a feeling of what his salary demands are. If they are deemed as unreasonable then the Yankees need to trade him. The Yankees will lose their bargaining power if they wait until the end of next season.

  • Balt Yank

    I believe Tanaka is on a seven year 150 million dollar contract. How much more money does he need? He's a class act and solid pitcher, and also most often a six inning pitcher who can barely pitch a full season, let alone the post season. Yes, pitching is at a premium but if he opts out, the Yankees are lucky. There will be other pitchers available every year for $20 million per and without the risk. You can't build a team around him because he's not an ace able to pitch 240 innings including a World Series.

    • Rob Abruzzese

      At the time that he is able to opt out, he'll have three years and $67 million left on his contract. At 29, he definitely would be able to earn more guaranteed money than that. Heck, I could see him easily finding another team to give him another 7 year $150 million deal. Athletes only have a small window to earn money and he's going to earn as much as he can in that window.

      • moocow007

        Oh absolutely, especially considering that the projected free agent starting pitching market for after this season isn't really all that better than the crop of suspects right now. The big names projected for the next free agency period include CC, John Lackey, Ubaldo Jiminez, Matt Garza, etc. Not exactly much better than Bartolo Colon, Rich Hill, etc. Tanaka if he opts out will be the biggest fish and someone will go nuts on him.

  • asdavila

    I read this: "if he is healthy he is going to opt out, if he is not he will stay. If he stays because he is not healthy we wont get anything for him in a trade because everybody will know he is sick…" (a nyy fan on another board)…

    This one is tough, this is risky… truth is that for most of last season he was the only starter I could trust… In my book he was the only reliable one, for most of the season… so, its tough to get rid of a guy like that… but will be hard to see him going and not get anything in return…

    Pitching wise… I think we are still in trouble… and I don´t see 2017 as our year… sorry…

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