Masahiro Tanaka was on the fast track for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Now his 2014 season — and potentially 2015 — could be in jeopardy after the Yankees revealed the right-hander has a “small” tear in his Ulnar Collateral Ligament Thursday night. Doctors are initially recommending a six-week rehab plan. Yankees GM Brian Cashman didn’t rule out Tommy John surgery could be an option at a later date.
Last August New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was diagnosed with an UCL tear. Harvey intially wanted to rehab the injury but eventually opted for Tommy John surgery in October with the aim of returning in 2015. If the treatments and rehab don’t work on Tanaka, surgery would likely cost him a big chunk of the 2015 season since the timetable for recovery is right around 12 months.
The timing of the news comes at a bad time for the Yankees who are 46-44 and three games out in the American League East and 2.5 out in the Wild Card. Would the team consider selling some assets to try to reload for the future? It’s doubtful New York would find a replacement even remotely close to Tanaka on the trade market. CC Sabathia is also out for the season, leaving New York scrambling to fill out its rotation.
If Tanaka ends up having surgery and misses some of 2015 would it prompt the Yankees to go hard after reigning AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer when he hits the free agent market this winter? Well, harder than the Yankees usually pursue big-ticket free agents?
Tanaka, in the first year of a seven-year, $155 million deal, has a 2.51 ERA in 129 innings with 135 strikeouts.