TOKYO — Masahiro Tanaka is returning to pitch for his former team in Japan after seven seasons with the New York Yankees.

The Rakuten Eagles said Thursday the 32-year-old free agent had signed a two-year contract. Local media reported it was worth almost $9 million annually.

“WELCOME HOME our HERO!!!!” the Eagles posted on Twitter.

The Yankees recently added two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and traded for Pittsburgh pitcher Jameson Taillon. New York appeared to have no room for Tanaka in its 2021 rotation and didn’t appear to be trying to re-sign the two-time All-Star.

“I have decided to return to Japan and play for the Rakuten Eagles for the 2021 season,” Tanaka wrote on Twitter. “I wanted to make sure and touch base with you, and thank you for all the love and support you have given me for the past 7 seasons.”

“I feel extremely fortunate for having the opportunity to take the field as a member of the New York Yankees, and play in front of all you passionate fans. it has been an honor and a privilege! Thank you so much!!”

Tanaka went 3-3 with a 3.56 ERA in 10 starts last year during the pandemic-shortened season.

The right-hander pitched for Rakuten from 2007-13, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his final season and leading the Eagles to the Japan Series title.

Tanaka then signed a $155 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees ahead of the 2014 season and quickly became a steadying, consistent presence in their rotation.

Tanaka went 78-46 with a 3.74 ERA and 991 strikeouts in 1,054 1/3 innings. He was an All-Star in 2014 and 2019 despite pitching with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

The Yankees often chose Tanaka to start in big games and he went 5-4 with a 3.33 ERA in 10 starts during the playoffs.

MARLINS: Former Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria reached a lawsuit settlement to reimburse local government $4.2 million for the cost of building Marlins Park, which opened in 2012.

The payment stems from the $1.2 billion sale of team in 2017 by Loria to Derek Jeter and his ownership group. In 2009, local government agreed to help pay for the ballpark in exchange for Loria’s pledge to share profits if he later sold the team.

Following the sale, Loria claimed a loss on the deal due to taxes, which the county described as “fuzzy math.”

The settlement follows months of negotiations. Miami-Dade County will receive $3.637 million, or 87% of the settlement, and the city of Miami will receive $563,000, according to terms outlined on the county website.

The 2009 agreement called for Loria to pay 5% of net proceeds from the sale of the team. Public money covered more than three-fourths of the $634 million cost for Marlins Park.

BREWERS: Sara Goodrum has been promoted by Milwaukee to minor league hitting coordinator, apparently making her the first woman to have that role in any Major League Baseball organization.

Goodrum’s official new title is coordinator for hitting development initiatives, but she essentially will be filling the role of a minor league hitting coordinator. Brewers vice president of minor league operations Tom Flanagan said that “to our knowledge, she would be the first” woman to hold that position in an MLB organization.

Goodrum, 27, has been working in the role since October. The Brewers officially announced the promotion as they released the names and positions of their entire 2021 player development staff.

She had spent the last three seasons in the Brewers’ sports science department, working primarily on hitting. Her previous title was coordinator for integrative sports performance.

CUBS: Right-hander Kohl Stewart agreed to a one-year contract after he opted out of last season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stewart last pitched in the majors in 2019, going 2-2 with a 6.39 ERA in nine appearances with Minnesota.

 


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