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Report: Masahiro Tanaka prefers to re-sign with Yankees or play in Japan

Seven-year Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka remains an MLB free agent, and his future reportedly could go one of the following two ways. According to a published report Thursday morning by NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller, there is a “good chance” Tanaka either re-signs with the Yankees or plays in Japan’s Nippon Professional League (NPL) for the 2021 season.

Citing a source close to the 32-year-old, Miller reported that Tanaka wants to remain with the Yankees and is not interested in money for a non-contender. While the Los Angeles Angels have been viewed as a potential fit, Miller included that Tanaka is “unlikely” to sign there.

Tanaka also has considered the idea of a career-ending stint with the Rakuten Gold Eagles, where he initially rose to stardom from 2007-13 before his MLB chapter in New York. The Yankees signed Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract Jan. 22, 2014.

With the Yankees from 2014-20, he totaled a 78-46 regular-season record and 3.74 ERA in 174 games (173 starts) over 1,054 1/3 innings pitched, striking out 991 while walking 208. A two-time All-Star selection for the 2014 and ’19 seasons, his past campaign saw him go 3-3 with a 3.56 ERA in 10 starts spanning 48 innings pitched, including 44 strikeouts to eight walks and nine home runs allowed.

SNY’s Andy Martino painted a complicated picture for the budget-operating Yankees, reporting Dec. 8 that bringing back Tanaka would likely be out of question if they re-sign their prized possession in DJ LeMahieu. The Yankees already exercised a contract option to pay $13 million for LHP Zack Brittonin the bullpen while a handful of options remain among starters.

“Generally speaking, I always want all our guys back,” manager Aaron Boone said Dec. 15. “You know that’s not always the reality. You know even in the best of situations there’s going to be turnover every now and then. I hope that’s not the case with those guys. We’ll see where this winter ends up shaking out.

“We have a long way to go. In the case of Masa, he’s been a great Yankee and a great teammate and someone who is beloved here. And I think you can say the same thing about (OF Brett Gardner). Both those guys not only have been great Yankees and have had outstanding careers, but are still in both cases we think impactful players.”