The unfortunate inevitable finally arrived this morning. After seven amazing years with the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka is returning home to Japan. He signed a one year contract with Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
Tanaka leaving has the same sting to it when some of the other fan favorites departed. Didi Gregorious, Nick Swisher, and Hideki Matsui. Tanaka captured the hearts of fans right at the first press conference. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. This was purely a business move. Tanaka was seeking upwards of $15 million a year, which the Yanks were not willing to offer. Once the team signed Kluber and traded for Taillon, it felt that Tanaka’s time was coming to a close. He is headed back to the Eagles on a $7.7 million dollar contract, but he is following his heart and Japan will celebrate his homecoming.
It’s been an incredible seven years with Tanaka. He arguably was one of our most consistent and poised pitchers. No stage was too big for him. He was the epitome of a professional and an all-around great teammate. Tanaka provided over 174 games of excellence, and he was a large part of the team's success. He was cool, calm, and collected in the playoffs. His overall stats weren’t eye-popping, but he earned the title of “Playoff Masa”. He had his best postseason run in 2017 when he went 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA, 18 strikeouts, and three walks in 20 innings against the Indians and Astros.
Prior to joining the Yankees, Tanaka was an absolute stud for the Golden Eagles. He had numerous awards after going 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons, striking out 1,238 in 1,315 innings. I wish Masahiro Tanaka all the success back in Japan. I’m sorry the Yanks could bring you home a ring. Hopefully, this isn’t a goodbye, but possibly a see you later.