New York Mets Free Agent Profile: Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka is now a free agent as his contract with the Yankees has expired. Tanaka can now test the free agent market, as he is one of the best starting pitchers out there.

Is Tanaka Worth Signing?

At the age of 32, Masahiro Tanaka is finally going to test the market after being with the Yankees his whole career in the major leagues. On the Yankees, Tanaka recorded career 3.74 ERA with an amazing 78-46 record. He also won Rookie of the Year in 2014 and is a two-time All Star.

In 2020, Tanaka recorded a 3-3 win-loss record with a 3.56 earned run average. 2020 was too small of a sample size but in the playoffs which matter the most, he faltered. In Game 3 of the Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Tanaka gave up five runs on eight hits in just four innings. He received the loss in that game.

The last full season which was 2019, Tanaka was an All-Star. So let’s forget about the shortened 2020 season, and project Tanaka to be an effective pitcher like in 2019.

Are the New York Mets an Option?

The New York Mets sit atop of the teams that are interested in Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka would make the Mets rotation better as a number three or four starter. The Mets are currently keeping an eye on Marcus Stroman, as they wait to see his decision on the qualifying offer he received from the team.  As of now, the Mets starting rotation consists of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, David Peterson, and possibly Seth Lugo. Mind you, Syndergaard will miss at least half of 2021 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Lugo is a better option out of the bullpen, as he’s the team’s best long reliever. With the signing of Tanaka, Lugo can potentially be a late-inning reliever or closer. Another reason to sign Tanaka is because he’ already played in the Big Apple. The Mets need more than one pitcher so signing Tanaka won’t void a Trevor Bauer signing. Perhaps, the Mets can sign Tanaka and Bauer together.

Masahiro Tanaka has spent the entirety of his American baseball career with the New York Yankees. His tenure in pinstripes could be over after a disastrous ALDS performance against the Tampa Bay Rays. Throughout his career, Tanaka has cemented himself as a third or fourth starter in a good pitching rotation. He was not worth the $22 million the Yankees gave him in the offseason prior to the 2014 season.

There’s also been rumors swirling around that Tanaka’s original Japanese baseball team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, could offer him $20-25 million per year. Tanaka has pitched well in the states but not as great as he was in Japan.

If the Yankees opt to not re-sign Masahiro Tanaka, the Mets should definitely sign him. Yes, the Mets will have more money for free agency now that Steve Cohen is owner. But if the Mets were smart, they wouldn’t overpay Tanaka.


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