It should go without saying, but saying goodbye to Masahiro Tanaka really stinks. I don’t know about you, but his seven years pitching for the Yankees really flew by. There were some ups and downs along the way, but one thing’s for sure: the guy was a fierce competitor on the mound and delivered a number of memorable performances during his tenure. Amazingly, he’s still just 32 years-old and has plenty of good years ahead of him. We certainly wish him the best of luck.
Now that his departure is official, it’s a good time to reflect upon Tanaka’s career with the Yankees. From the initial acquisition to the UCL scare to a handful of postseason highlights, Tanaka was an incredibly fun player to follow over the past seven seasons.
The entire baseball world eagerly awaited Tanaka’s move from NPB to MLB following the 2013 season. He had just capped off a tremendous year for the Rakuten Eagles and ended it with an exclamation point. As if going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA during the regular season wasn’t sufficient, Tanaka closed out Game 7 of the Japan Series on zero days rest to seal the title. Oddly enough, Tanaka actually took the loss in Game 6, but that memory was immediately erased after celebrated on the mound following the last out the next day. It was the perfect leadup to his move to the MLB.
Unsurprisingly, It didn’t take long for reports to surface that the Yankees would be heavily involved in attempting to sign Tanaka. By October 10th, George King reported that the team would be serious players for the right hander’s services. But as the next couple of months moved along, there was quite a bit of uncertainty regarding Tanaka’s availability.