The diagnosis is in on Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and it’s not particularly promising.
According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman just announced that Tanaka has seen three doctors and all of them have diagnosed him with a partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Tanaka will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection for now and attempt to begin a throwing program. If all goes well, he could make it back in around six weeks. Of course, Tommy John surgery hasn’t been ruled out if his elbow fails to respond. While the tear is considered “small,” there haven’t been many success stories with pitchers attempting to rehab from these type of injuries. If Tommy John surgery is ultimately required, he will likely miss around 12 months. Basically, the Yankees are faced with the very real possibility that they will be without Tanaka for the rest of this season and all (or most) of 2015.
The news is a really tough blow for the Yankees and just the latest in a long line of high-profile pitchers with arm injuries. Tanaka has been a sensation in his first year stateside, going 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 135/19 K/BB ratio in 129 1/3 innings over 18 starts.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.