At the end of the 2017 season, Masahiro Tanaka will be left with a choice: remain in New York, or test the free agent market.
Whatever his decision may be, the Yankees won’t attempt to make the first move.
“Hopefully he has a great year and he’ll have a decision to make,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday. “If he doesn’t, then he won’t.”
According to Cashman, the team will reportedly not discuss a contract extension with Tanaka at any point this upcoming season. The 28-year-old righty, who signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with New York prior to the 2014 season, is eligible to opt out of the pact following his fourth year. The price for Tanaka also included a $20 million posting fee to Tanaka’s former Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
If Tanaka elects to honor the deal and remain with the club, he will make $67 million from 2018 to 2020.
Tanaka finished seventh in the American League Cy Young vote in 2016, posting a 14-4 record and 3.07 ERA in 31 starts. Since joining the majors, he was gone 39-16 with a 3.12 ERA, with a K/9 rate of 8.2 and BB/9 rate of 1.5.
Despite consistent numbers, Tanaka remains as a considerable liability. Two seasons ago, Tanaka suffered a partial tear to his ulnar collateral ligament, and further damage would require Tommy John surgery. In 2015, he experienced right wrist tendinitis and a forearm strain, and later underwent offseason right elbow surgery to remove a bone spur.
“We made a significant investment and he was a Cy Young award candidate last season and we certainly hope he does again,” Cashman said. “But at this stage, we’ve had no discussions internally to pursue any type of extension.”