Padres rumored to be interested in Masahiro Tanaka

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The San Diego Padres are reportedly considering Masahiro Tanaka, who is a free-agent pitcher. 

By acquiring Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, the San Diego Padres have completely overhauled their pitching rotation. What was once a question heading into the 2021 season has become a strength.

Despite those two acquisitions, the Padres are still looking to add to their freshly minted rotation as Ken Rosenthal reports that the team has done “background info” on former New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka.

After signing a seven-year, $155 million with the Yankees in 2014, Tanaka has posted quality numbers and made the MLB All-Star Game in 2014 and 2019.

In the 2020 season, Tanaka started 10 games for New York and pitched to a 3.56 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 4.19 xFIP, and 4.07 SIERA. After seeing a dip in strikeouts in the 2019 season, Tanaka bounced back by striking out 22.3% of batters faced while walking batters at a 4.1% rate, the latter of which was a career-high.

Batters only made hard contact against Tanaka on 30.1% of batted balls, which equated to a career-best. While he did allow a career-high 39% fly-ball rate, that only marginally increased his home run numbers as his 1.69 HR/9 was only slightly higher than the 1.38 HR/9 he posted in 2019.

While many have expected New York to resign the 32-year-old Tanaka during the offseason, an abnormally quiet offseason has allowed other suitors such as San Diego to begin courting the former Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagle.

San Diego currently sports a rotation headlined by Snell, Darvish, and Dinelson Lamet, while Chris Paddack looks to have a rebound season. The fifth spot is still wide open for competition. Adrain Morejon and Joey Lucchesi seemingly the early favorites for the job, while top prospect MacKenzie Gore and Ryan Weathers looming large on the horizon.

Signing Tanaka would bolster the rotation even more and provide a fallback option if Lamet’s elbow problems persist in 2021. Perhaps the biggest reason for signing Tanaka to a deal is to lighten the workload on Lamet and Morejon’s arms during the jump from a 60-game season to a 162-game season.

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