Mariners potential free agent target: Masahiro Tanaka
The Seattle Mariners may be looking for starting rotation help this offseason. Could the Japanese born two-time All-Star Tanaka be a Mariner next year?
If the Mariners are going to be a team that will compete, and hopefully contend within the next few years, adding a quality starting pitcher to the mix they already have is a necessity. Insert Masahiro Tanaka, who would be a perfect candidate for Seattle to go after this offseason.
Tanaka has spent his first 7 years in the Major leagues with the New York Yankees after coming over from Japan at age 25. Now at age 32, Tanaka has amassed some impressive stats and accomplishments in the United States.
He is a two-time All-Star with a career 3.74 ERA in the MLB. He also has a 114 ERA+, a .391 FIP, and 991 strikeouts in his MLB career. Now for the first time since he was available to major league teams in 2014, Masahiro will hit the open market in free agency.
So why should the Mariners add Tanaka to their pitching staff?
For starters, it would be awesome to have Tanaka and Kikuchi on the pitching staff. While Kikuchi might be gone after this year, for the next season and maybe the future the Mariners could be Japan’s team like they were with Ichiro. Having Masahiro around may also help Kikcuhi mentally leading to better performance on the field, as the two seem to have a good relationship despite never crossing paths before they started against each other in 2019.
While he is now 32, Masahiro is still a great pitcher and has been a model of consistency throughout his career. Just once in his 7 years in the MLB has Tanaka had a below-average ERA+ when he had a 95 in 2017. He has also only had an ERA over 3.75 twice, and one of those years he was an All-Star.
While there are a few better and younger options for starting pitchers in the free agency class, with everything that I just brought up it would not be a surprise at all if the Mariners were to offer Tanaka a deal. He did not receive a qualifying offer which may intrigue more teams and drive his price up, but the Mariners time to strike would be if the market is not what Tanaka and other free agents expect.