NEW YORK – Scratch Masahiro Tanaka off the list of potential free-agent pitchers.
Tanaka said Friday he will stay with the New York Yankees and not exercise the right to opt out of the remaining three seasons of his contract.
“It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization,” he said in a statement released by the team. “I’m committed to our goal of bringing a World Series championship back.”
A right-hander who turned 29 on Wednesday, Tanaka was 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA, the highest of his four seasons with Yankees, and he allowed a career-high 35 home runs. He was on the disabled list for nearly two weeks in August because of right shoulder inflammation, then went 5-2 in his last seven regular-season starts.
Tanaka excelled in the playoffs, going 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA, 18 strikeouts and three walks in 20 innings during the AL Division Series against Cleveland and League Championship Series with Houston. That led to speculation he might give up the $67 million still owed on his $155 million, seven-year deal and test the market.
Tanaka is 52-28 with New York. He was found to have a partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow during the 2014 season, and since then the Yankees have tried to give him extra rest at times. He gets a $22 million salary in each of the next two seasons and $23 million in 2020.
In other news, Derek Jeter’s first major roster move with the Miami Marlins was to part with former teammate Ichiro Suzuki.
The Marlins declined Ichiro’s $2 million club option, making him a free agent. Ichiro will get a $500,000 buyout.
Jeter, whose ownership group took over a month ago, played with Ichiro when both were members of the New York Yankees. The Marlins are expected to cut their payroll by one-third to about $90 million, and parting with Ichiro is just the start of an anticipated purge.
The 44-year-old outfielder has said he wants to play until he’s 50, but it’s unclear whether another team will sign him. While he could return to the Marlins at a lower salary, their tweet Friday made that sound unlikely.
“It’s been an honor watching you play. Thanks, #Ichiro!” the Marlins tweeted.
“See you in Cooperstown,” former Marlins president David Samson tweeted.
Ichiro ranks 22nd with 3,080 hits but started only 22 games this year and had 196 at-bats, the lowest total of his 17-year career. He set a big-league mark with 109 plate appearances as a pinch hitter, and had a franchise record 27 pinch hits.
Meanwhile, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks will not give former major leaguer Daisuke Matsuzaka a new contract for next season, a source close to the matter said Saturday.
The 37-year-old Matsuzaka, who won 164 games combined in Japan and the big leagues, wants to continue his playing career and will look for a new club.
Matsuzaka joined the Hawks in 2015 from the majors, and was in his final year of the three-year contract.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5