Former Yankees SP Masahiro Tanaka to Return to Japan

New York Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka in 2019. Photo by Albert Pena/CSM/Shutterstock (10435545as)

After spending seven seasons in the United States as a fixture in the New York Yankees’ pitching rotation, right-handed starter Masahiro Tanaka has agreed to a deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles which will send him back home.

Tanaka became a free agent this off-season after his seven-year $155 million deal with the Yankees expired. This was the largest contract ever given to a foreign player, and the veteran right-hander was thought to be a target for many MLB teams. But instead, he decided to follow his heart back to his native land.

The Golden Eagles are the team with which Tanaka became a star, as he became their best pitcher during his tenure with the team from 2007 to 2013.

Tanaka was the Pacific League MVP in his final season with the Golden Eagles and a six-time NPB All-Star for the team, which he helped lead to the Japan Series Championship in 2013.

He will return to his club as a hero and as the ace of its pitching staff after his 7 years in America ended with a 78-46 record, a 3.74 ERA, and a reputation as one of the most reliable righty starters in the game.

Tanaka will begin the new season with the Golden Eagles this summer.