Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has decided not to test his slightly torn ligament in his right elbow on the open market and opted to remain with the New York Yankees.
He announced on Friday that he would not use his opt-out clause of his contract and would remain a member of the Yankees for the last three years of his current contract.
Tanaka, who celebrated his 29th birthday Wednesday, said the decision was simple for him as he has enjoyed playing for the last four years for the organization and the wonderful New York fans.
Tanaka had until Saturday midnight to exercise his opt-out clause, but by returning eliminates one more to-do for General Manager Brian Cashman.
The most important thing for Cashman is replacing former manager Joe Girardi whose contract was not renewed when he ended his 10th season as the skipper last month.
Joe Espada, who was the team’s third base coach, left to become the Houston Astros bench coach, as well.
The decision by Tanaka spared New York from making a choice between extending the pitcher’s contract despite the injury risk or losing him to the free agent market.
Previously two other players on the Yankees – C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez – have used their opt-out clauses to negotiate lengthy, lucrative extensions from the Yankees organization, the type of deals the team has shied from over the past three seasons.
However, the most likely reason Tanaka did not do the same was his right elbow. He has pitched with a slight tear in the ligament of his elbow for two and a half seasons, and missed time with injuries to his arm in all of his previous four seasons with New York.
Nevertheless, Tanaka has shown signs each season of dominance. Although, this season he was erratic ending as 13-12 with an ERA of 4.74, by far his worst with the team.
His final start in the regular season was positive as he had a perfect game through four and two-thirds innings while striking out 15 to set a new career high.
He performed well for the Yankees during the postseason allowing two runs over 20 innings in three starts against the Indians and Astros.
During the playoffs, he allowed 10 hits, of which just one was for extra bases, and fanned 18 while walking only three.