Yankees GM Brian Cashman is doing his best to temper expectations for his $175 million pitcher. Per ESPN’s Andrew Marchand, Cashman says it would be “asking too much” to expect Tanaka to perform like an ace. Instead, he sees Tanaka as “a really solid, consistent No. 3 starter.”
Cashman expects Tanaka to experience “some growing pains” transitioning from baseball in Japan to baseball in the United States. Specifically, Cashman cited pitching on five days’ rest rather than seven, a different strike zone, and stronger lineups. Yu Darvish, by all accounts a superior pitcher to Tanaka, posted a 3.90 ERA in his first year in the U.S. in 2012, but lowered it to 2.83 this past season with improvements across the board.
On January 22, the Yankees signed Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract which also required them to pay a $20 million posting fee to the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japan Pacific League. He was one of many big signings the Yankees made during the off-season. They also signed center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $154 million deal, catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million deal, right fielder Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal, and Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $16 million deal.
Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.
Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.
While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.