Perhaps the biggest roster question of the New York Yankees offseason has been answered.
Friday night, Masahiro Tanaka announced he will not opt out of the final three years and $67 million remaining on his contract. Here's the statement he released through the team:
"I have decided to stay with the Yankees for the next three seasons. It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization and for the wonderful fans of New York.
"I'm excited to continue to be a part of this team, and I'm committed to our goal of bringing a World Series Championship back to the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees organization, and the great fans of New York."
While $67 million is no small chunk of change, the expectation was Tanaka could fetch $100 million or more as a free agent this offseason. Pitching is always in demand, and he's had four very good seasons in New York, throwing 668 1/3 innings with a 3.56 ERA (118 ERA+). This postseason Tanaka allowed two runs in 20 innings across three starts.
Tanaka, 29, originally signed with the Yankees during the 2013-14 offseason. He received a seven-year contract worth $155 million -- the Yankees also paid a $20 million release fee to his former club in Japan, the Rakuten Golden Eagles -- that included the opt-out following this season. The deal does not include any more opt-outs, so he's tied to the Yankees through 2020.
The Yankees now know they'll build their 2018 rotation around Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery. CC Sabathia is a free agent and the expectation is the Yankees will look to bring him back on a short-term deal. They are trying to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold, so spending big on a free agent like Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta is unlikely.