Tanaka to play for Japan's Golden Eagles next season

Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka announced Thursday that he's heading back to Japan to suit up for Nippon Professional Baseball's Rakuten Golden Eagles.

The free-agent pitcher returns to the Golden Eagles after spending seven years with the New York Yankees. He helped Rakuten win a Japan Series title in 2013 before heading to the majors on a seven-year, $155-million contract.

In New York, Tanaka posted a 78-46 record with a 3.74 ERA and 991 strikeouts across 1,054 1/3 innings. He finished seventh in AL Cy Young voting in 2016 and made the All-Star team in 2019.

The 32-year-old was reportedly looking for a one-year deal in the $15-million to $20-million range to stay in the majors. The San Diego Padres were one of the clubs rumored to be interested in him.

The Minnesota Twins talked with Tanaka, reports Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic. The Toronto Blue Jays were also involved in discussions with the Japanese hurler, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Tanaka received an inquiry about joining an MLB team as a closer, but he wasn't interested in being a reliever, according to Andy Martino of SNY.

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Tanaka to play for Japan's Golden Eagles next season
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