By Randy Miller
He’s still the Yankees‘ ‘Hiro.
Starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka won’t exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, Tanaka said via a statement through the team on Friday night.
Tanaka will stick with he three years and $67 million left on his deal rather than test free agency.
“I have decided to stay with the Yankees for the next three seasons. It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization and for the wonderful fans of New York,” Tanaka said in the statement.
“I’m excited to continue to be a part of this team, and I’m committed to our goal of bringing a World Series Championship back to the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees organization, and the great fans of New York.”
Tanaka had three days after the World Series to make a final decision on opting out of the final three seasons of a seven-year, $155-million contract that includes $22 million salaries for 2018 and 2019, then $23 million for 2020.
Tanaka, 29 as of Wednesday, had a tough decision because a good case could be made for him to use or pass on using his opt-out.
His overall numbers in four seasons since he left Japan to play for the Yankees are very good, as he’s 53-28 with a 3.56 ERA over 105 starts.
Also, he ended a down 2017 season by allowing just two runs over 20 innings in three postseason starts.
However, Tanaka was terrible at times this past season, allowing eight earned runs once and seven four times while going 13-12 with a career-worst 4.74 ERA.
And, that partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow that he’s been pitching with since September 2015 figures to lead to Tommy John surgery at some point.
Tanaka missed a start in August due to a short stint on a the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, but his UCL hasn’t been an issue.