Masahiro Tanaka returns to Japan after 7 seasons with Yankees

Sep 30, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) delivers in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Free-agent right-hander Masahiro Tanaka is returning to Japan to pitch for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, the Nippon Professional Baseball team announced on Thursday.

Tanaka, 32, has pitched the past seven seasons with the New York Yankees. He signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees in January 2014 spending the previous seven seasons with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

“I have decided to return to Japan and play for the Rakuten Eagles for the 2021 season,” Tanaka wrote on Twitter. “I wanted to make sure and touch base with you, and thank you for all the love and support you have given me for the past 7 seasons.

“I feel extremely fortunate for having the opportunity to take the field as a member of the New York Yankees, and play in front of all you passionate fans. it has been an honor and a privilege! Thank you so much!!”

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Tanaka posted a 3-3 record with a 3.56 ERA in 10 starts last season. The two-time All-Star registered a 78-46 mark with a 3.74 ERA in 174 career appearances (173 starts) with the Yankees.

The Yankees already have addressed their starting pitching during the offseason, signing two-time Cy Young Award recipient Corey Kluber and acquiring fellow right-hander Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

–Field Level Media