Masahiro Tanaka was diagnosed last month with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and that injury pretty much always leads to Tommy John reconstructive surgery, but the right-hander is still holding out hope that rest and rehab will do the trick.
According to beat writer Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the new Yankees ace threw 10 fastballs on flat ground Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore without experiencing any sort of arm discomfort. “It’s feeling really good,” Tanaka told reporters through an interpreter after the workout. “Really, I didn’t feel anything special compared to just regular tossing. I thought everything went well.”
Tanaka is aiming to return to the major league rotation at some point in mid-to-late September.
And while that seems unlikely, the in-contention Yankees aren’t willing to rule it out quite yet.
Tanaka owns a fantastic 2.51 ERA (153 ERA+) and 135/19 K/BB ratio through his first 129 1/3 big league frames. He signed a record seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees this past winter.
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.