Rakuten, Inc. was eliminated in the first stage of the Climax Series, ending the season of Masahiro Tanaka (33) in his first year back in Japanese baseball. He suffered a sore right soleus just before the opening day of the season and was late to the game, but he returned in mid-April and became a part of the starting rotation, pitching in 23 games with a 4-9 record and a 3.01 goals-against average.
His QS (Quality Start) is 17 games in which he has allowed three or fewer earned runs in six innings pitched, and his earned run average is 2.16, which indicates how many runs he has allowed in one start.
In fact, the organizers of the Pacific League had this to say about him
“I’m impressed with Ma-kun’s consistency. His image has changed from the dominant performances he used to have in Japan, but he has matured in the game-making skills that are most needed by starting pitchers.
In this offseason’s stove league, Tanaka’s departure is attracting a lot of attention.
In January of this year, he signed a two-year contract with Rakuten for a salary of 900 million yen plus commission, the highest in baseball history, and returned to the Japanese baseball world for the first time in eight years. In January, he signed a two-year contract with Rakuten for 900 million yen, the highest salary in baseball history.
“It’s a two-year contract to begin with, so the basic line is to stay. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to do it, but I’m sure I’ll be able to do it. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to do that,” he said. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. I came back to Japan with the intention of contributing to the league championship, but I regret that I could not help the team.
He told his teammates, “I’m really sorry. With an annual salary of 900 million yen, that’s 230 million yen per win. I’m sure neither the fans nor the player himself are happy about it.
On the other hand, the evaluation of Tanaka by the major league teams is not low.
“In the past, Tanaka has adjusted to the environment of the majors, so it is a low-risk reinforcement for the acquiring team. I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that I’m not the only one who’s a fan of your work.
In his final start of the season on October 25 against the Orix, he pitched well, allowing one run (one earned run) on four hits in eight innings, and was well received by the major league scouts who were checking out the pitching matchup with Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Some teams are already preparing to make an offer to Tanaka, but what is his value in the majors right now?
“I think he’ll be worth $5-7 million a year next year, considering he’ll be 34. Depending on the team’s situation, some teams may offer around $8 million, which is almost the same as Rakuten’s, but I think it will be difficult to sign a multi-year contract. In recent years, contracts for players over the age of 30 have become quite serious in the majors.
Tanaka himself is well aware of this situation. I’m not sure if there is any chance that he will actually return to the majors. I’m sure he’s going to stay in the majors,” said the sports paper desk.
“If the conditions and environment are right, he could return to the majors right away. But what Tanaka is looking for is a team that can win the World Series or the Yankees, to whom he has a strong attachment. Even if he receives an offer in the future, he would not say that he would leave Rakuten or Sendai without achieving results that he is satisfied with. He has a difficult side, but he has that kind of loyalty.
At his return press conference in January this year, he said that he had “unfinished business” in the U.S. baseball world, and that the Japanese baseball world was “not a seat at the table. The unfinished business is to win the World Series. But Rakuten also has a new unfinished business. It’s the first league championship and Japan championship since 2013. I can’t take off my crimson red uniform without accomplishing that. This is the main reason why Ma will play in Japan next year.