Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Is Tanaka now the 2nd-best FA starter?

November 11, 2020

Masahiro Tanaka continued to prove his worth as a durable, middle-of-the-rotation arm by posting a 3.56 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 48 innings (10 starts) in the shortened 2020 campaign. While Tanaka's performance has fluctuated over his career to some degree based on his hit and homer rates, his

Masahiro Tanaka continued to prove his worth as a durable, middle-of-the-rotation arm by posting a 3.56 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 48 innings (10 starts) in the shortened 2020 campaign. While Tanaka's performance has fluctuated over his career to some degree based on his hit and homer rates, his dependability will make him a candidate for a multiyear contract as teams seek pitchers capable of taking their turn in the rotation and providing quality innings.

Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 32-year-old right-hander.

Tanaka’s value gets bump with QO decisions

Nov. 11: Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman accepted one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offers from the Mets and Giants, respectively, on Wednesday, taking two starters off the free-agent market and elevating Tanaka.

A case can be made that the 32-year-old is now the second-best free-agent starting pitcher after Trevor Bauer. With Stroman and Gausman out of the picture, Tanaka is ranked as such by MLB Trade Rumors. Comparable free-agent options include Charlie Morton, Jake Odorizzi and James Paxton, each of whom dealt with injuries in 2020.

Tanaka enters free agency with a lifetime 3.74 ERA over seven seasons, including a 3.56 mark last season. He also has pitched to a 3.33 ERA over 10 career starts in the postseason.

Tanaka missed time due to a partially torn UCL in his right elbow as a rookie in 2014, but after avoiding Tommy John surgery, he hasn’t dealt with additional elbow-related problems.

No QO for Tanaka

Nov. 1: The Yankees, as expected, tendered an $18.9 million qualifying offer to MVP candidate DJ LeMahieu, but did not do so in Tanaka's case. The veteran right-hander has been good for New York over the last seven seasons after coming to the Majors from Japan, posting a 3.74 ERA across 1,054 1/3 innings. That includes a 3.56 ERA over 10 starts in 2020. The Yankees may very well try to re-sign Tanaka for less than the amount of a qualifying offer to keep him in the Bronx for an eighth season. More >

Would Tanaka fit with Mets?

Oct. 21: Tanaka could be a free-agent target for the New York team not named the Yankees, writes SNY's Danny Abriano.

In an article addressing the Mets' options to improve their starting rotation behind ace Jacob deGrom, Abriano suggests Tanaka as one of the top external candidates, along with Trevor Bauer and James Paxton (as well as listing re-signing Marcus Stroman as an option).

The SNY article cites Tanaka's postseason track record and overall durability over the last five seasons as reasons for the Mets to pursue the veteran right-hander.

Cashman, Tanaka talk future with Yanks

Oct. 8: After the Yankees' season ended with a five-game postseason loss to the Rays in the American League Division Series, general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged Tanaka's value to the club.

"Tanaka has been fantastic for us," Cashman said. "He has really impacted us in a positive way."

Cashman is considering how the Yankees will handle their approach to free agency this offseason. Their most prominent free agents like Tanaka and DJ LeMahieu will be strong candidates to receive a qualifying offer for 2021.

Following his last start of 2020 -- a postseason loss to the Rays in ALDS Game 3 -- Tanaka also reflected on his tenure with the Yankees and considered his future with the team, including discussing his continued desire to help bring the Yankees their 28th World Series championship.