Where the Yankees go this season could hinge on the health and effectiveness of right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, which is why his comments today are pretty interesting:
Tanaka was good this spring, posting a 3.07 ERA and 13/1 K/BB ratio over 14 2/3 innings, but his velocity has been noticeably lower than it was last year and he’s relying more on his two-seam fastball. He previously told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that he’s adjusting his pitch mix because his four-seamer was “vulnerable” last year, but this is also presumably part of a plan to protect the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Whether it will keep Tanaka from requiring Tommy John surgery is anybody’s guess, but seeing him try to get by on diminished stuff this year will be fascinating.
Tanaka, who had a 2.77 ERA over 20 starts in his first year stateside, is scheduled to pitch Opening Day on Monday against the Blue Jays.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Rockies and shortstop Trevor Story have come to terms on a two-year, $27.5 million deal, buying out his two remaining years of arbitration eligibility.
Story, 27, and the Rockies did not agree on a salary before the deadline earlier this month. Story filed for $11.5 million while the team countered at $10.75 million. The average annual value of this deal — $13.75 million — puts him a little bit ahead this year and likely a little bit behind next year.
This past season in Colorado, Story hit .294/.363/.554 with 35 home runs, 85 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases over 656 trips to the plate. He also continued to rank among the game’s best defensive shortstops. Per FanGraphs, Story’s 10.9 Wins Above Replacement over the last two seasons is fifth-best among shortstops (min. 1,000 PA) behind Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Marcus Semien.
With third baseman Nolan Arenado likely on his way out via trade, one wonders if the same fate awaits Story at some point over the next two seasons.