The Yankees face a bit of a rotation dilemma next season with the primary issue being that their best pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, has the ability to opt out of his contract at the end of 2017. Assuming that Tanaka has a full, healthy season and is reasonably productive, there is little reason to believe he won’t test the market to see what kind of deal he can get.
Although this puts the Yankees in a bad situation with next to no stability for the rotation beyond this season, the team has not discussed a contract extension with Tanaka. It feels similar to when Robinson Cano was approaching free agency and it made all the sense in the world for the Yankees to offer him something that may keep him away from other bidders. They didn’t do so with Cano and have yet to do so with Tanaka.
Should the Yankees fall out of contention before the trade deadline, Tanaka would be a valuable asset. Brian Cashman was able to turn a few months of Aroldis Chapman into the system’s new top prospect, and the desperation of teams on the verge of making a real run at it cannot be understated. However, if the Yankees themselves believe that they are going to compete in the near-future, it seems like it would make more sense to make Tanaka part of those plans.
It’s possible that the Steinbrenners and Cashman believe that if they do trade Tanaka at the deadline they could re-sign him once he opts out, much the way that they found their way back to Chapman. If that were the case, wouldn’t it make more sense to try and offer him an extension now that would keep other teams from being able to drive up the price?
All of this is assuming that Tanaka would want to stay in New York, and who knows if that’s true. Maybe he feels like the rest of his prime years would be better spent with a team that is more ready to compete for the World Series right now. That being the case, the Yankees could offer him an extension that he may refuse. At least they’d be offering, though.
If the Yankees don’t believe they are going to spring for a high dollar contract for Tanaka once he opts out, they have to trade him at the deadline. Letting him go for nothing only to sign with a different team would be silly. Not offering him an extension now leaves that door wide open. It’s easy to believe that the Yankees have a plan in place of some kind, but it seems like believing that is often just a way to end up disappointed in the result.
Do you think the Yankees should offer Tanaka an extension? Do you want them to re-sign him if/when he opts out?