In two years, annual salary of 5.7 billion won ↓ Great reduction… ‘197 wins in the U.S. and Japan’ was also hit by a sharp wind

Masahiro Tanaka (35, Rakuten Golden Eagles), once dubbed the “child of God” for his reign as the best pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball, is facing a pay cut for the second year in a row. Two years ago, he was the highest-paid player in history at 900 million yen, but now he faces a pay cut of more than 625 million yen (about 5.7 billion won) in two years.레모나토토

Japan’s Sportshochi reported on Aug. 8 that the Rakuten club has offered Tanaka a salary for next year that exceeds the reduction limit (40 percent if it exceeds 100 million yen). Tanaka, who earned an estimated 475 million yen this year, was offered a cut of at least 200 million yen.

The reason for the cut is clear. Tanaka has underperformed this year, going 7-11 with a 4.91 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 139⅓ innings pitched in 24 games. It’s the first time since his debut in 2007 that he hasn’t pitched a full season in Nippon Professional Baseball.

With a league-wide ERA of 3.17, an ERA in the low-4’s is poor in a league that is extremely pitcher-heavy. Tanaka’s 4.91 ERA ranks 109th out of 111 pitchers who pitched at least one-third of a regulation inning.

It’s a career low, even including his time with the New York Yankees from 2014-2020. His 4.74 in 2017 was the highest in the majors. In his mid-30s, he hit the aging curve and performed worst in every way.

When Tanaka returned to Japan in 2021, he received the best deal in league history, a two-year, 900 million yen contract. In his first year back, he went 4-9 in 23 games (155⅔ innings), but his 3.01 ERA wasn’t bad. But in 2022, he went 9-12 with a 3.31 ERA in 25 games (163 innings), and his salary was cut nearly in half.

The cut amounted to a whopping 425 million yen. It was the second-largest ever, behind only the ¥450 million for Yomiuri Giants pitcher Toshiya Sugiuchi (¥500 million to ¥50 million) in 2016. With his second straight year of poor performance, he is on the verge of becoming the first player in history to have his salary cut by more than 200 million yen in two consecutive years.

Tanaka, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in late October after the season ended and has been rehabbing for four months, isn’t taking it easy either. Rakuten’s head of international affairs, Ryoto Sasaki, said, “A contract with Tanaka is likely to be signed by the beginning of the year,” hinting at the possibility of protracted negotiations.

Tanaka, who has been recognized as a monster pitcher since his high school days, made his professional debut in 2007, winning the Rookie of the Year award. In 2011 and 2013, he won the Sawamura Award, which is given to Japan’s top pitcher. In 2013, he led Rakuten to its first league championship and Japan Series title in its history, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 games (212 innings) and earning MVP honors.

After signing a seven-year, $175 million contract with the New York Yankees, the highest paid Asian player in history, Tanaka went 78-46 with a 3.74 ERA in 174 games (1054⅓ innings) over seven years. He was a consistent performer, winning 11 or more games in six straight years after his debut. With 197 career wins (78 in the U.S. and 119 in Japan), he is just three wins away from 200.

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