Per the NY Daily News, the Yankees are not likely to pursue Masahiro Tanaka if he opts out of his contract.
According to team sources, the Yankees — as desperate as they may be for quality starting pitching — are annoyed at Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, for holding the threat of a potential opt-out over their heads.
“I just don’t see Hal (Steinbrenner) going there,” one team source told the News. “He’s still smarting from the (CC) Sabathia and (Mark) Teixeira deals.”
And so it begins…
This is the reason I’m not a fan of opt out clauses. I understand them in principle, but very rarely do they benefit the team. What ends up happening more often than not is it the player holds the team hostage and we get will-he or wont-he opt out drama. We saw it with Alex Rodriguez following the 2007 season and again with CC Sabathia after 2011. Now, according to the Daily News, the Yankees are frustrated over the ongoing drama of Tanaka’s opt out clause.
Tanaka is a difficult situation to evaluate. On the one hand, he’s an excellent pitcher when on the mound (Opening Day notwithstanding). By all statistical measures he is worth the $22 million he receives annually. On the other hand, Tanaka has had major injury concerns ever since coming to Major League Baseball in 2014 and the prospect of signing a pitcher who is still throwing with a partial UCL tear is alarming.
But the Yankees are in a tough spot. Much like CC in 2011, Tanaka has leverage over the Yankees because their rotation is in flux. Michael Pineda, who has been nothing but disappointing, is a free agent after this season. Sabathia, who is finally in the last year of his extension, will also walk after the season. While he was a nice rotation surprise in 2016, the other shoe could drop on CC at any moment.
Those reasons above are exactly why I wrote in February that Luis Severino is the key to the Yankees rotation future. If he and the other young pitchers fail to meet expectations, the Yankees will probably have no choice but to run back to Tanaka with their tail between their legs.
I suppose you can only blame the team who agrees to the opt out clause in the first place. And you can’t blame a player for exercising his option to opt out for more money. The whole thing is just a sideshow that the Yankees don’t need right now.
Update to the original report
The New York Post got in on the Tanaka/Yankees action after the original report came out, saying there have been no opt out ultimatums given to Tanaka and his team.
“It ain’t on my radar screen right now — an entire season to play,” managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner told The Post. “Secondly, anyone that knows me knows that I don’t get emotional or personal about business. Any decision then will be made on a solid analysis of all the relevant data, per usual.”
Brian Cashman added that there is no anger towards Tanaka’s agent because there has been no opt out talk between the two sides.
“There is nothing to hold over our heads because we haven’t negotiated it,’’ Cashman said. “I have the utmost respect for Casey Close and his office. I don’t know where this came from. We haven’t had any discussions of an opt-out.’’
So the Yankees squashed any potential drama between the organization and Tanaka… for now. My original point still stands, however. The fact that we’re talking about Tanaka’s opt out just three games into the season is a story in itself.