Masahiro Tanaka
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Star pitcher spent seven seasons with the New York Yankees.

On Thursday morning, Masahiro Tanaka announced his plan to return to Japan for the 2021 season on Twitter. He plans to join the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

Tanaka, 32, completed a seven-year, $155 million deal at the conclusion of the 2020 season. He made 173 regular season starts for the Yankees, compiling a 78-46 record. He represented the Pinstripes in two All-Star Games. In 10 postseason starts, Tanaka went 5-4 with 44 strikeouts and 15 walks in 54 innings.

Unfortunately, Tanaka’s Yankees career will be remembered for physical issues as well.

Tanaka’s first season with the Yankees came with a huge red flag. A partially torn ligament was discovered in his pitching elbow, leading to the ever-present questions about whether or not he would at some point require Tommy John surgery. And, in 2020, his final season with the Yankees was limited after he was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton.

Tanaka pitched for the Rakuten team for seven years before signing with the Yankees. They are obviously elated that he’s coming back to the team after throwing well for the Yankees.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.