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Rapid Reaction: Tanaka out six weeks

7/10/2014

Masahiro Tanaka will be out at least six weeks with a partially torn UCL in his right elbow. Tanaka will try to rehab and avoid Tommy John surgery in an effort to return this season.

What it means: There were ominous signs over the past 30 hours, so all in all, the fact that three experts in the field think that Tanaka might be able to avoid Tommy John surgery is a positive. Because of that, this falls just short of being disastrous, as far as baseball standards go.

However, this is awful for the Yankees. In an otherwise mundane year, Tanaka has been the Yankees' shining star. He is their present and their future. The fact that his elbow isn't right is a huge concern, which will hang over his and the franchise's head for ... well, forever.

Best-case scenario: Tanaka rehabs for six weeks, comes back and pitches like a Cy Young candidate again. He teams up with a healthy Michael Pineda in August, and the Yankees send Derek Jeter out with a playoff run.

Worst-case scenario: Tanaka goes through the rehab over the next six weeks. He never gets right and then needs Tommy John. That would take him out of 2015 as well. This is an absolute nightmare for the Yankees. Instead of an ace, the Yankees will have a question mark, without any substantial answers until 2016.

Trade market: The Yankees play like a team that should possibly be sellers. But they play in a division that makes them buyers or, at least a team that will stand still. The AL East is pretty awful. If you are myopic, you just look at the Yankees with four-fifths of their original rotation on the shelf and think they should punt on 2014.

Nobody here is saying the Yankees are going to win this division, but the Orioles and Blue Jays have holes, while the Rays and Red Sox have dug themselves big holes to climb out of. So when Brian Cashman said the Yankees will be buyers in the trade market, considering the franchise's DNA and the standings, you can understand the thinking.

Plus, the Yankees don't have much to sell in the first place. Who are you going to trade? Free agent David Robertson? Rookie of the year candidate Dellin Betances? Hiroki Kuroda? Maybe Kuroda might be worth something with no future loss, but he hasn't accepted trades in the past. The two relievers are too valuable to give up.

Bottom line on the news: It could have been worse. It may end up being the doomsday scenario, but for the time being, the Yankees are buying some time for their $175 million man.

Question: How do you feel about the Tanaka diagnosis?