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Tanaka’s Last Stand

Thursday, January 5, 2017 4:54
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Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America
We all understand the challenges of commuting and even traveling to see family and friends during the holidays.  The traffic, the sinking feeling of having to drive or fly hundreds of miles just to see your family and logistics of navigating the time to do all of this can add stress to your body and mind. Perhaps that’s one of the biggest reasons it is time for Masahiro Tanaka to seriously consider making a move to the West Coast for the final seasons of his career.

Source: Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images North America
With a no trade clause in his dwindling contract (he has only one year left), we could see Tanaka make that move out West sometime around the All Star Break.  “That is because his contract contains an opt-out clause following the 2017 season. It would follow then that the Yankees would attempt to trade him before that to at least get something in in return for losing him,” according to Fox Sports.  

Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America
The article goes on further to say something even more intriguing, making Tanaka’s last stand in 2017 even more obvious.  ”The Yankees also will be making another sensible decision before they would even attempt to trade Tanaka. And that would be the level of impact on the standings at the time by trading away their best starting pitcher. Are they in the race, or not. And even if they are in the race, would it make practical sense to trade him anyway, getting a starter of equal or slightly lesser value in return. Tough choices, but they’re ones that the team is obligated to make.”

Source: Getty Images
What if one of those tough choices included the Mariners and let’s say King Felix?  The Seattle Times had an interesting article about Felix Hernandez at the end of October, which makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable with a straight up trade of Tanaka for Hernandez.  “At age 30, he has reached a transitional point in his career. The game is no longer as simple as he once made it look. His body has changed. The mileage on his arm has sapped his velocity. His signature delivery is not as easily repeated. His command wanders and disappears. His performances have become less predictable.” Makes you think about another pitcher already on our roster who had a fat contract but his age and dwindling velocity caught up with him, along with his addiction to alcohol.

Source: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America
With the Mariners’ window of optimal success shrinking to perhaps this season and next, Hernandez’s oft-mentioned desire to pitch in the postseason could hinge largely on his efforts in 2017. Will he be leaning on the dugout rail at the end of the season in lament, or jumping over it in celebration?”  With some shifts in his pitching like other aging veterans have made, King Felix could rise again, perhaps with a reboot to the Bronx donning Yankee pinstripes.  “It’s not a simple process. It takes a total commitment in all aspects — mental, physical and professional. The ones that can do that find their way to Cooperstown. The ones that can’t or won’t might remain generationally great, but never elevate to the all-time elite,” reports the Times.

Source: Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images North America
This is just a vision of “Christmas Future” if you will.  They are just shadows of things that could happen, not necessarily destined to happen.  It will be interesting to see how things play out in the coming months but we could be talking trades like this one about six months from now, which means that Tanaka’s last stand could be in full motion.

–Suzie Pinstripe
BYB Managing Editor
Twitter: @suzieprof

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