Before coming to The Bronx in 2014, The Rakuten Eagles, the Japanese team Tanaka played with, announced his signing on Twitter. It is unclear about the terms of the contract.
As the offseason went on, particularly with the Yankees signing former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to a one-year, $11 million contract, this split seemed inevitable. This offseason, the Yankees are adamant not to go over the $210 million luxury tax mark, leaving them no wiggle room outside of DJ LeMahieu for signings.
“I hope everyone keeps themselves safe during these difficult times,” Tanaka wrote on Twitter. I wanted to reach out to you because I have decided where I will be playing this coming season. I have decided to return to Japan for the 2021 season and play for the Rakuten Eagles.
I wanted to make sure that you hit the base and thank you for all the love and encouragement you have shown me over the past seven seasons. As a member of the New York Yankees, I’m incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to take the field and play in front of all of you passionate fans. It has been a pleasure and an honour! Many thanks to you!! ”
Tanaka, 32, came to the Yankees with a seven-year, $155 million contract, a much-ballyhooed deal. He had seven good seasons for the franchise and mostly saved his best performances for the playoffs, but he never quite became the ace the Yankees imagined.
He finished his 78-46 Yankees career with an ERA of 3.74.
Tanaka’s signing was named ‘very unusual’ by Rakuten general manager Kazuhisa Ishii.