The Yankees are not open to extending Masahiro Tanaka's contract, even if doing so could lower his average annual value as the team attempts to get under the luxury tax threshold, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
Tanaka, who is owed $67 million over the next three seasons, chose earlier this month to not opt out of his deal.
Heyman cites major league sources who were "shocked" Tanaka didn't opt out of the deal, surmising that he must have chosen to stay with the Yankees instead of hitting the open market because his medicals don't look good.
The 29-year-old Tanaka has been pitching with a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow since 2014, which can eventually lead to Tommy John surgery.
He had a 4.74 ERA (4.34 FIP) and 1.23 WHIP with 194 strikeouts in 178 1/3 innings (30 starts) during the regular season in 2017. Tanaka was dominant in the postseason, posting a 1.38 ERA in three starts combined in the ALDS and ALCS while striking out 18 batters in 20 innings.
Along with Tanaka, the Yankees' 2018 starting rotation is expected to include Luis Severino and Sonny Gray.
Tanaka's medicals probably look exactly as one would expect for a pitcher diagnosed three years ago with a partial UCL tear. Maybe it is worse than before, maybe it is not. What matters right now is Tanaka's performance and there was enough of a downward spin in his first half of the 2017 season for teams to indicate to his agent that opting out may not be as lucrative as he would hope.
As for the Yankees wanting to extend Tanaka now; what's the point? Reducing the average annual value of Tanaka's contract may have been enticing as a side benefit to re-signing him had he opted out of the deal. However, to guarantee him another season _now_ for the simple reason to cut the average annual salary as they try to get under the luxury tax is absurd.
Simply put, the Yankees will be paying for Tanaka's final three "prime" seasons. When the contract ends, he'll be approaching his age-32 season, which is exactly where they would become tentative about longer agreements.