Tanaka declines to opt out, will stay with Yanks

Tanaka declines to opt out, will stay with Yanks

NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka announced Friday that he has decided not to opt out of the remaining three years and $67 million on his contract with the Yankees, saying that it had been a "simple decision" to remain with the club.

"I have decided to stay with the Yankees for the next three seasons," Tanaka said in a statement. "It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization and for the wonderful fans of New York.

"I'm excited to continue to be a part of this team, and I'm committed to our goal of bringing a World Series championship back to the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees organization and the great fans of New York."

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Tanaka, 29, had until 11:59 p.m. ET on Saturday to announce his decision, coming off what the right-hander characterized as an "up and down" 2017 campaign in which he went 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA in 30 starts. He ranked eighth in the American League with 194 strikeouts, seventh in K/9 IP ratio (9.79), fourth in K/BB ratio (4.73) and third in BB/9 IP ratio (2.07).

He also allowed a career-high 35 homers, which tied for the third-most in the AL. Tanaka's performance found another gear late in the season, as he went 8-5 with a 3.54 ERA over his final 16 starts, including a 15-strikeout performance in his regular-season finale against the Blue Jays on Sept. 29.

Tanaka not opting out

Tanaka continued that dominance into the postseason, where he was 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA in three playoff starts, holding opponents to a .145 average and a .369 OPS. Tanaka blanked the Indians over seven innings in Game 3 of the AL Division Series, held the Astros to two runs over six innings in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series at Houston, then hurled seven scoreless innings in Game 5 of the ALCS in New York.

In 105 regular-season starts since coming to the Majors from Japan's Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka is 52-28 with a 3.56 ERA. He sustained a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament during the 2014 season, in which he was 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA in 20 starts, and has been able to avoid surgery.

After the Yankees were eliminated in Game 7 of the ALCS, Tanaka said he planned to consult with agent Casey Close about his upcoming decision.

MLB Tonight on Tanaka's decision

"It's no secret how up and down of a season I had," Tanaka said. "I'm sure I mentioned this at the end of the regular season. It was really a grind. It was really a fight throughout the season. To me, it was really a battle. What I did was, I can say that I didn't back away from it. I faced it and I think because of that I feel like I was able to sort of grow as a player. That's kind of the take I have at this point in time."

With Tanaka remaining in New York, the Yankees' rotation for 2018 projects to include Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray and perhaps Jordan Montgomery, with Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield leading the list of options from the farm system.

Hoch on Yankees' 2018 rotation

CC Sabathia is eligible for free agency and has said he hopes to return, though he said on a Players' Tribune podcast Friday that he would understand if the Yankees did not bring him back, particularly in the wake of what he called a "shocking" parting with manager Joe Girardi.

"If my run is up here, like Joe, I had a great time," Sabathia said. "I was here for nine years with some of the best players on the planet, won a World Series, greatest fans ever. I was a Yankee. I can say that. But no, I'm good with it. It's weird, I'm good with baseball however it shakes out. If I'm done next year, if I'm done the year after, it is what it is. This is all borrowed time for me. This is extra. I'm just having fun."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.