Yankees free agent Masahiro Tanaka reportedly close to signing…in Japan


Masahiro Tanaka appears close to signing with a team – just not in North America.

The free agent Yankees pitcher is reportedly in negotiations to return to Japan and rejoin his former team, the Rakuten Eagles, according to Sankei Sports.

While the 32-year-old right-hander would be a welcome addition to any other team, it was believed that his preference was to either return to the Yankees or head back home to Japan.

That became clearer on Sunday after the Yankees traded for Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon, who was added to the rotation this winter along with former Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber.

The Yankees are rolling the dice with Taillon and Kluber, though, both of whom have not pitched a full season since 2018 due to injuries.

Tanaka, who has evaded Tommy John surgery after suffering a partial tear in his UCL in 2014, has been one of the most durable pitchers in baseball – starting at least 24 games each season since 2015 and pitching at least 150 innings. He started 10 games and pitched 48 innings in last year’s pandemic-shortened season, too.

In seven seasons with the Yankees, Tanaka went 78-46 with a 3.74 ERA and 991 strikeouts over 1,054.1 innings. In 10 postseason appearances, Tanaka went 5-4 with a 3.33 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 44 strikeouts over 54 innings pitched.

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