Two-time All-Star Masahiro Tanaka announces return to Japan
Former Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is heading back to Japan. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Masahiro Tanaka announces return to Japan after seven years with Yankees

Masahiro Tanaka announced that he will be returning to play in Japan after spending seven seasons with the New York Yankees. The free-agent right-hander said on Twitter that he will be returning to the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

"I have decided to return to Japan and play for the Rakuten Eagles for the 2021 season," Tanaka wrote. "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."

Tanaka joined the Yankees in 2014, signing a seven-year, $155 million deal with the team. Over the seven seasons, he was one of the league's most consistent starting pitchers going 78-46 with a 3.74 ERA and being named to two All-Star games. 

In last year's shortened season, Tanaka was forced to miss some time after being hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton line-drive during batting practice. He ended up starting 10 games for the Yankees, going 3-3 with a 3.56 ERA.

"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," Tanaka said. "It has been an honor and a privilege! Thank you so much!!"

Before joining the Yankees, Tanaka played seven seasons with the Rakuten Eagles, going 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA while striking out 1,238 in 1,315 innings.

"WELCOME HOME our HERO!!!!" the Rakuten Eagles wrote on Twitter.

Blake Harper is a writer based in New York. He's originally from San Diego and is one of the few Chargers fans left. He doesn't believe in ties and loves elaborate celebrations. Follow him on Twitter @beezyharps 

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