New York Yankees Masahiro Tanaka
(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

Despite the lack of a groundbreaking free agent signing, Masahiro Tanaka believes the 2019 New York Yankees are an improved team.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado probably won’t be wearing pinstripes next season, but that doesn’t mean the New York Yankees have regressed. It’s actually the opposite if you ask starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

The gutsy right-hander spoke with the media through a translator on Tuesday.

“Obviously, we are a better team now,’’ Tanaka said per George A. King III of the New York Post. “The additions are definitely going to help us out.’’

Despite the aversion to doling out a major contract to a superstar like Machado or Harper, it’s impossible to deny Tanaka’s sentiment.

The James Paxton acquisition helps strengthen the Yankees’ starting rotation. The bullpen is still one of the most dominant units in all of Major League Baseball. Zack Britton is back and Adam Ottavino replaces the aging David Robertson.

Furthermore, the Yanks brought in the defensive-minded and contact-focused DJ LeMahieu to bring some balance to the lineup. And in a low-risk move, general manager Brian Cashman is taking a chance on the oft-injured Troy Tulowitzki while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Despite the narrative that the Yankees are afraid to spend money this offseason, the Yanks spent the second most money of any team on free agents per Spotrac. They trail only the Washington Nationals who opened up the checkbook for lefty hurler Patrick Corbin.

Of course, it’s fair to criticize the Yankees for not signing Harper or Machado, but they have still improved despite the absence of a big splash in free agency. Tanaka isn’t wrong about the team’s improvement, but it’s unclear if their offseason moves will be enough to knock off the Boston Red Sox.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.