MLB notes: Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will return to the Yankees

Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka throws during Game 5 of the ALCS on Oct. 18.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Scratch Masahiro Tanaka off the list of potential free-agent pitchers. Tanaka said Friday he will stay with the New York Yankees and not exercise the right to opt out of the remaining three seasons of his contract.

“It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization,” he said in a statement released by the team. “I’m committed to our goal of bringing a World Series championship back.”

A right-hander who turned 29 on Wednesday, Tanaka was 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA, the highest of his four seasons with Yankees, and he allowed a career-high 35 home runs. He was on the disabled list for nearly two weeks in August because of right shoulder inflammation, then went 5-2 in his last seven regular-season starts.

Tanaka excelled in the playoffs, going 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA, 18 strikeouts and three walks in 20 innings during the Division Series against Cleveland and League Championship Series versus Houston. That led to speculation he might give up the $67 million still owed on his $155 million, seven-year deal and test the market.

Tanaka is 52-28 with New York. He was found to have a partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow during the 2014 season, and since then the Yankees have tried to give him extra rest at times. He gets a $22 million salary in each of the next two seasons and $23 million in 2020.


Convinced Michael Brantley will be healthy and productive, the Cleveland Indians exercised his $11.5 million option.

The 30-year-old hit .299 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 90 games, his second straight injury-shortened season. He went on the disabled list twice and had right ankle surgery on Oct. 18. Brantley was limited to 11 games in 2016 because of a shoulder injury that required surgery.

“Going into the season, he had some shoulder issues that really didn’t affect him a whole lot for the majority of the season. And he performed at an exceedingly high level in the first half and earned an All-Star berth based upon that performance,” general manager Chris Antonetti said. “And then with his ankle, he did have surgery on it. There’s a high likelihood of success with the surgery that he had performed, so we’re very optimistic that Michael will be able to contribute for a meaningful part of next year. And, as we’ve seen, when he’s on the field, he’s a very productive player, and we think there’s a good chance that he’ll be on the field for the majority of next year.”

Cleveland also exercised a $3-million option on right-hander Josh Tomlin. The 33-year-old went 10-9 with a 4.98 ERA in 26 starts, including 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA in his last 10 appearances.

Cleveland has until Monday to exercise a $7 million option on left-hander Boone Logan or pay a $1 million buyout. Logan’s first season with the Indians was cut short by a torn back muscle in July.

There are 155 free agents and about 20 more players are subject to decisions on options by Monday. Teams will announce decisions Monday on $17.4 million qualifying offers, which attach draft-pick compensation. Players have until Nov. 16 to accept.

In other news among potential free agents:

—The Los Angeles Angels declined a $13-million option on right-hander Ricky Nolasco and a $10 million option on right-hander Huston Street. Each gets a $1-million buyout.

—World Series champion Houston exercised a $6-million option on All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve and a $5,125,000 option on utility man Marwin Gonzalez.

—In Derek Jeter’s first major roster move running the Marlins, Miami declined a $2-million option on 44-year-old outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who gets a $500,000 buyout.

—Pittsburgh exercised a $14.75-million option on star outfielder Andrew McCutchen and declined $1.25-million options on catcher Chris Stewart and reliever Wade Leblanc. Stewart gets a $250,000 buyout and LeBlanc $50,000. LeBlanc was sent outright to Triple-A Indianapolis.

—The New York Mets exercised an $8.25-million option on infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and a $7-million option of left-hander Jerry Blevins.