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Masahiro Tanaka decides to stay with Yankees instead of opting out and testing free agency

He’ll be back in pinstripes in 2018.

League Championship Series - Houston Astros v New York Yankees - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After being expected to opt out of his contract to test the free agency waters, Yankees’ pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has announced that he will instead stay with the Yankees for the duration of his current deal.

That means, barring a trade or a retirement, Tanaka will be sporting pinstripes for the next three years for $67 million over that span ($22 million for the next two seasons and $23 million to finish things off in 2020).

He released a statement through Yankees PR, saying that it was a “simple decision” and he has “truly enjoyed the past four years playing” for New York and their “wonderful fans.”

With other top pitchers like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta available on the free agency market this offseason, Tanaka would have fit right in with those top targets. While the first half of his season was shaky — he had a 5.47 ERA over 18 starts and 102 innings pitched — which put him in a position to almost certainly opt in for the last three years of his contract, the second half of the season and his postseason performance made his decision look murkier from the outside than before.

He put up a 3.77 ERA over 12 starts and 76+ innings pitched, and opponent batting averages decreased more than 40 points from 2.76 to 2.30 against him. He pitched 20 innings over two games in the playoffs, allowing 10 hits and only two runs against both the Astros and the Indians. Those numbers, while not being lights out every game, could have fetched him some tempting offers on the open market at the very least.

But instead he will stay with the Yankees. They have a young core that is far ahead of schedule when it comes to success, so it’s not like he’s hitching his horse to a wagon with a broken axel and a bad coat of paint.

After losing in ALCS Game 7 to the eventual champions, it’s fair that he would want to continue the push for a World Series with the young, talented squad the Yankees have.