MLB Trade Rumors: Masahiro Tanaka to Seattle Mariners, Felix Hernandez to New York Yankees

By James Johansson, Posted: 01/05/17 12:12PM EST

The New York Yankees could find themselves in a tough situation if Masahiro Tanaka lives up or exceed expectations in the 2017 MLB season. The Yankees could be forced to trade Tanaka, with the Seattle Mariners named as one of his potential landing spots.

Tanaka signed a seven-year deal worth $155 million contract with the Yankees in 2014. However, the Japanese pitcher could become a free agent after next season if he decides to opt out of his deal.

Injuries slowed down Tanaka during his first two seasons in the Major League. He sustained a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and there is always the possibility that he will eventually undergo Tommy John surgery.

But despite the health concerns surrounding Tanaka, he was able to show a glimpse of his potential last season if he remains healthy. The 28-year-old managed to pitch in career-high 31 games, where he ended up 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA with 165 strikeouts to boast.

If he stays healthy next season and throws like the way he did last season, Tanaka will be in a good situation. He will have the leverage and could opt out of his contract to get a bigger deal from the Yankees or from another team.

This is the main reason why the Yankees might consider trading Tanaka instead of losing him for nothing after next season, Yanks Go Yard reported. The Mariners were named as a potential landing spot, though it is quite unsure if Seattle have the necessary assets to attract the Yankees.

But in any deal involving Tanaka, the Yankees will likely ask for Felix Hernandez. The 30-year-old went 11-8 in 25 starts last season with 3.82 ERA.

There is also a chance that the Yankees will do the same strategy they did with Aroldis Chapman, Pinstripe Alley reported. The Yankees traded Chapman to the Chicago Cubs before the deadline but managed to acquire the star pitcher back in free agency this offseason.

Tanaka reportedly owns a no-trade clause, which means the Yankees should convince him to waive the right to make him tradeable. They could let Tanaka play for a contender, wait for him to opt out of his contract, and enter the bidding war for his services in free agency after next season.

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