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.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.