Masahiro Tanaka is no longer the flamethrowing prospect he once was but could still have a massive effect in this league in a different way. Tanaka and Ohtani played on different teams in Japan, but the ties still run deep. Ohtani is 26 years old, the same age that Tanaka was when he entered his first year in the MLB.
His three-year advantage may save his career path if his youth allows him to collect himself. It is well-documented that players who come over from Japan often choose to play for teams where there is a comfort level and ties to their former home. Players like Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki playing for the Yankees could have easily influenced Tanaka in joining the Bronx Bombers. This time around, it could be the young phenom Ohtani that could lure him to Anaheim.
Ohtani has much in common with Tanaka especially the fact that they both needed Tommy John shortly after coming over from Japan. Unfortunately, Ohtani has not quite looked the same since and may be battling something physically and mentally. Having someone like Tanaka could change the direction of his career and fulfill the promise he showed as early as his first spring training.
Ohtani should be back at full strength physically in 2021 and all eyes will be on his progress. Tanaka would be sure to step in and provide advice and guidance to the young star. He would also be able to help him grow by sharing the struggles he went through trying to adapt to the new league.