Masahiro Tanaka’s opt-out clause looms over Yankees 13


Masahiro Tanaka‘s job this season is to give the Yankees an ace-like performance, especially since the starting rotation is a huge question mark for the Yankees.

But the looming question mark surrounding Tanaka has nothing to do with his performance. It has to do with his longevity with the team.

Tanaka has an opt-out clause in his contract following the 2017 season, and many are wondering if Tanaka is going to excersie it.

I can assure you the question isn’t will Tanaka opt out of his deal.

It’s when will Tanaka opt out of his deal.

The Yankees obviously want Tanaka to pitch like an ace, especially since his contract is expensive. However, the chances of the now frugal Yankees retaining Tanaka after the opt-out is slim. The Yankees are desperately trying to get under the luxury tax by the 2018 season, and with six weeks to go before the Yankees are slated to report for Spring Training, the team is trying to cut payroll just a bit further.

Whether the team actually does that is still to be seen.

Tanaka would obviously command a lot of money–the Yankees recently paid $155 Million for the ace’s services. And the Yankees currently don’t have an ace-like pitcher in the system to replace him.

CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are both slated to come off the books after the 2017 season. Pitchers like Adam WarrenBryan MitchellChad Green and Luis Cessa are competing for the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in Spring Training. And pitchers that the Yankees once envisioned entering the starting rotation years ago (Dellin Betances) ended up finding their niche in the bullpen.

Despite not having an ace potentially after the 2017 season, the Yankees still have a choice to make. They could either let Tanaka walk after the 2017 season, or they could get the most from the ace by trading him in the middle of season should the team exit from contention. Many questioned a similar move last season when the Yankees traded Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman in exchange for prospects. However, it worked out for all involved; the Yankees replenished their farm for the future, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series and the Cleveland Indians were the American League Champions.

Regardless what happens with Tanaka, the Yankees need the ace to have a good season.

Even if it means potentially losing him after next year.


13 thoughts on “Masahiro Tanaka’s opt-out clause looms over Yankees

  • Balt Yank

    I like Tanaka, his intelligence, pitching ability, professionalism, and grit. He has that quality essential to any very good to great player but which appears in no specific stat: desire to play and desire to win. If he wasn't hurt, he'd be great. He is hurt and his grit shows. I'd say, opt out, enjoyed ya, see ya later. I think opting out lacks character and I bet that means Tanaka won't opt out also considering the market valuation of his arm risk.

    • Celerino

      You make a lot of sense. The Yankees have been smarter lately about not signing big albatross contracts, so maybe they will let him go. A lot also depends on whether a couple of guys in the Severio-Mitchell-Cessa-Green pile emerge as decent rotation pieces.

  • Eric

    Trade him at the deadline if not in contension! If healthy we would get a huge haul, then try to re-sign him if he opts out.

    • Otto

      I agree with you Eric. I would trade him even if they are in contention especially if he is pitching well. There is no doubt he will opt out because the money flying around is to much to pass up. Ever since he got injured he has not been dominant. He needs the extra day of rest to be real effective. If you can get a couple of more young studs to the stable then you are setting the future up. Then you have enough to make smart trades without depleting the farm system. I would look to add Bentances with him. Then maybe the Dodgers and Astros you could get a pretty big haul. I doubt the Yankees do it because they want to give the fans the illusion they are going to contend. ( Two years away ).

  • Jerry

    I agree with the above posts. I mean pitching is in great demand, but everyone knows his arm is a ticking time bomb. How many teams will be lining up to offer Tanaka big bucks? It doesn't make sense. If Tanaka is smart, he won't opt out, it might not be so GREEN on the other side. He's lucky to have a seven year contract. If he opts out , sayonara !!!

  • pjeagle7

    Like Hideki Matsui, Tanaka has honor and the tradition of Japanese superstars revering the Yankees and all they represent. It would p be poetic justice for Tanaka to shy away from opting out of his contract and build on his legacy, keep that arm healthy, & stay the course for 7 years & reap the benefits of the young superstars being groomed as tomorrow's new core.

  • Howard

    The way I see it is Tanaka's UCL could tear at any time.
    There is no way we will renegotiate a long term agreement with him because he could pop at any moment.
    On the other hand the free agent market has shown that it is not always so easy to get paid more than you were expecting.
    (Ask Bautista, Encarnacion, Trumbo, ) but Pitching is a different story (ie Greinke).
    So it is inevitable if he pitches well and opts out, he can earn a Greinke type deal, but if he shows any lapses like he had at the end of last year, he will not opt out.
    I share the same opinion, should he opt out, let him go.
    That will clear $70 million + without Arod, CC, Pineda and Tanaka off the books gives us the ability to get Arrieta and a big bat for 2018.

  • mosc

    I haven't heard it specifically said by anybody knowledgeable on his contract if he has a provision preventing the Yankees from offering him arbitration. Are we all so sure the Yankees can't just offer him arbitration for 2018 and 2019?

  • mosc

    Was Sabathia's big contract a mistake? No. Was Rodriguez's? No. Was Jeter's? No. The big mistake was re-signing them after opt outs. You have to be prepared to let them walk with these deals because the risk was always on the back end and in creating this you only get the value you originally fought for if they don't re-sign for big money.

    • Jerry

      I agree with you except for the fact that Tanaka will still be a young man, with hopefully many more years to pitch , although with the threat of a major arm injury, I would not resign him if he opts out. ….. I wonder if when he left Japan and he had that same potential injury lingering, how many teams would want him and at what kind of money . Several teams if any would not even pay the posting fee.

  • Howard

    If he has a killer year, he opts out.
    Once a player opts out of a contract, they are a free agent, there is no arbitration process.
    If indeed he does have a great year, I would say the UCL is probably stable enough where we should offer him a five year deal.
    At this time next year if Tanaka opts out, CC will have most likely have moved on and Pineda is a free agent (buh bye).
    So if Tanaka is healthy we should try to keep him.
    If not, he will not opt out.
    In any event most likely you will see a very different staff next year when all the $$$ starts coming off the books, CC might sign a one year deal?
    We clear Arod's payroll, CC's, Holliday, possibly Gardner and eventually Headley.
    It should be an exciting time for us in the near future if management handles it correctly.

    Happy New Year

  • Bs601

    I think it be a mistake for him to opt out. They've kind of babied him over the past 3 years. Who is going to pay a guy who hasn't pitched 200 innings in a season over and has some elbow issues more then 23 million?

    If he is going to opt out, trade him.

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