New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka had elbow surgery this offseason to help remove a bone spur in his right elbow, the team announced on Tuesday. The Yankees said the surgery was not related to the partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in Tanaka's elbow. This offseason Brian Cashman may chase free agents with names like Zack Greinke, David Price, Jeff Samardzija and Chris Davis on the market.
The Yankees still owe $111 million to Tanaka on his contract and this elbow procedure is not considered to be a serious one. According to the Yankees press release, Tanaka's rehab time is expected to take around three months and general manager Brian Cashman said that the pitcher should be ready for spring training. The bone spur is an issue that Tanaka has been dealing with since his time in Japan and Cashman said that the team knew about the elbow issue before signing Tanaka in free agency.
Tanaka has been pitching with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament and while some speculated that he could have Tommy John surgery, the Yankees and Tanaka have not gone down that road. The bone spur issue is not related to the UCL and the team said that it will be about six weeks before Tanaka will start a throwing program following surgery. Last season Tanaka was the most consistent starter for the Yankees, going 12-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 24 starts.
The Yankees made big splashes in free agency with Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Tanaka over the past couple years, but the team has not been as active as in past years. This offseason could be different, as some top flight players are on the market and the Yanks have some major needs. Zack Greinke is expected to opt out of his contract with the Dodgers and while he could sign back in LA, Jon Heyman at CBS Sports wrote that the Yankees could be a potential target for the pitcher.
Heyman also reports that Samardzija could be a top target, as "some Yankees people love" the "potential" of the pitcher. Samardzija could come cheaper than expected after having a down season and that also could make him a target for the Yankees. David Price is also hitting the market and the Yankees know him very well from his time in Tampa Bay and Toronto in the division. Price and Greinke are going to command a ton of money on the market and that could keep the Yankees out of signing them if they don't want to get bogged down by long term, expensive deals again.
Last year Tanaka was diagnosed with the partially torn UCL and instead of going for surgery for the injury, the team and Tanaka went the "rehab and rest" route and have been hoping that the elbow holds up. Adam Wainwright did the same when he had the injury, but eventually he needed Tommy John surgery. Tanaka has dealt with injuries during his time with the Yankees, including this past season when he did not pitch for over a month between April and June after dealing with a forearm issue and wrist tendinitis.