Recent figures have confirmed that COVID-19 froze the Major League Baseball trade market last year. The number of players who moved between teams decreased by a third year-on-year.
According to the statistics released by MLB on Wednesday, 8,211 transactions were made in 2020, a 35.7 percent drop from 12,772 in 2019. It was believed that transactions, which take place as a result of contract signings, waivers, retirement or invitations to spring training among others, slowed down with many games cancelled or played without fans, but no statistics had been released to back it up.
Against this backdrop, there is an increasing possibility that Japanese baseball pitcher Masahiro Tanaka who played for the New York Yankees for the past seven seasons will return to his home country. Local media including Sankei Sports reported that Tohoku Rakuten has contacted Tanaka multiple times and their negotiations are in final stages. It appears that a deal will be proposed by the end of this week.
As the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon, a right-handed pitcher of the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is unlikely that Tanaka’s contract will be renewed. Meanwhile, in the Korea Baseball Organization League, the attempt by NC Dinos outfielder Na Sung-bum, who became a free agent, to join an MLB team has been frustrated. It is also said that Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers will likely remain in South Korea.