In a surprising twist, Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka announced that he will not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, and will play out the remaining three years from his original contract.
Many thought that Tanaka would ride his stellar second half finish and fantastic postseason run into an opt-out and free agency. However, Tanaka cited that he’s “excited to continue to be a part of this team,” from his statement.
Tanaka got off to an awful start in 2017, posting a 5.47 ERA and allowing 23 home runs in 18 first half starts. The righty, however, figured things out in the second half, where he posted a bounce back ERA of 3.77 and cut his home run total to 12 in 12 starts. Tanaka was a force in the postseason this year, where he went 2-1 with a stingy 0.90 ERA and 18 strikeouts.
The Yankees will pay Tanaka $22 million each year for 2018 and 2019, and he will make $23 million for his age-31 season in 2020. If he can match the 3.12 ERA he posted excluding 2017, then he will certainly be worth the money. Plus, this move also solidifies a rotation that would have question marks without him.
He will join Luis Severino, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery in next year’s rotation. It’s likely that Chance Adams or someone else within the MiLB affiliates will battle for the fifth starter spot with a veteran. If the Yankees are able to land Shohei Ohtani, then their rotation will be one of the best in the league.