Tanaka stays, now what?

Masahiro Tanaka will not opt out of his contract or sign an extension. He’s a Yankee for the next three years at $22 million/year.

Now what happens?

Starting Rotation Implications

The 2018 Yankee starting rotation is currently:

  • Luis Severino
  • Masahiro Tanaka
  • Sonny Gray
  • Jordan Montgomery
  • Open

CC Sabathia is the obvious candidate for the open rotation spot. The other free agent names are pretty lackluster. Chance Adams and Domingo German lead the short-term internal options.

If Tanaka and Gray perform to their career averages and Severino and Montgomery play at their 2017 levels or better, the Yankees will have one of the best starting rotations in the American League. Had Tanaka left, they might have had to fill that roster with a Jaime Garcia or gamble on an internal option.

German and Adams are pretty good options at #6 and #7, and guys like Bryan Mitchell will still be around. The Yankees might lack a bit of depth had they had to bring in one of their internal options to the starting rotation, but depth is probably a strength with Tanaka.

Payroll Implications

If Tanaka had freed the Yankees of his $22 million luxury tax hit, they would have had somewhere around $48 million to spend below the luxury tax threshold. Now, they have something like $26 million to spend.

MLB Trade Rumors expects CC Sabathia to land a 2-year, $24 million contract with the Yankees. That seems like a low average value to me, and I’d be surprised if the term is more than one year. Sabathia nearly retired in August due to a knee injury. I think a one year deal is better for both parties. Let’s say 1 year at a respectable $15 million.

Had Tanaka left, the Yankees would have ample money after Sabathia’s contract to acquire a designated hitter. With Tanaka and Sabathia, they have around $11 million to spend on a designated hitter and some mid-season trade wiggle room. That seems unlikely to me and screams “salary dump” this offseason. Buckle up for some exciting Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, and Jacoby Ellsbury trade rumors.

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY Sports

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