After seven years with the New York Yankees, free agent Masahiro Tanaka’s right-hand man announced on Thursday that he would return to Japan to play for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Nippon’s professional baseball league.
“I decided to return to Japan and play for the Rakuten Eagles for the 2021 season,” Tanaka wrote on Twitter. “I wanted to make sure and touch the base with you and thank you for all the love and support you have given me over the last 7 seasons.”
“I feel extremely happy to have the opportunity to go out on the field as a member of the New York Yankees and play in front of all of you, passionate fans. It was an honor and a privilege! Thank you very much !!”
WELCOME TO THE BEGINNING OF OUR HERO !!!! https://t.co/2WoFI9XjKJ #RakutenEagles #Welcome back pic.twitter.com/2DNlgJYORy
– Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (@Rakuten__Eagles) January 28, 2021
The 32-year-old, who came out of a season in which he missed some time after being hit in the head by a shot by teammate Giancarlo Stanton during a live training session, has just completed the final year of a seven-year deal for $ 155 million.
A two-time star selection, the right-hander spent all seven seasons at MLB as a Yankee starter from 2014 to 2020 and was one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the major specialties during that period, going 78-46 in 173 starts.
Tanaka released a 3-3 record with a 3.56 ERA – a decline of 4.45 in 2019 – in 10 starts during the abbreviated pandemic season 2020.
It was found that Tanaka had a partially torn ligament in his elbow in the 2014 season and from then on the Yankees tried to give him extra rest between starts at times. He has made a $ 22 million basic salary in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons and $ 23 million in 2020.
Tanaka performed well in the playoffs during his time in the Bronx, going 5-4 with a 4.18 ERA, 44 strikes and 15 walks in 10 starts over 54 assists. He had his best win of the season in 2017, when he went 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA, 18 strikes and three walks in 20 assists during the divisional series against Cleveland and the American League Championship against Houston.
Before joining the Yankees, Tanaka was 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons with Rakuten Golden Eagles, striking 1,238 for 1,315 assists.