Throughout the offseason, McGehee talked publicly on several occasions about Tanaka, the 25-year-old pitching sensation. After it was reported on Wednesday that the right-hander will be signing with the Yankees for seven years and $155 million, McGehee was a guest on "Power Alley" on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.
McGehee, who signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Marlins in December, recognizes the vast talents of his former teammate. He hopes the media and public will be patient and allow Tanaka to settle into the big leagues.
"You have to remember, first of all, he's only 25 years old," McGehee said. "I think there is definitely room for him to improve."
McGehee points out that former Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia is a proven ace, and he can still handle that role until Tanaka is ready to assume the status.
"There are probably going to be days that you'll flip on the TV and he's going to look like the ace, and there are going to be days that he's still trying to make some adjustments," McGehee said. "At some point, he'll be ready to step up and take that role, I think."
From the standpoint of acclimating to the big leagues, McGehee believes Tanaka will benefit by the Yanks having Japanese natives Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki already on their roster.
"He's going to have those guys to lean on," McGehee said. "The pressure shouldn't be all on him. They've got other guys who can step up and take that role until he is ready to slide in. I think he's in a good spot right now, not having to be the No. 1."
Adapting to a big city like New York, and intense media coverage, also shouldn't be too much of an issue for Tanaka.
"I think he's used to every little bit of his life being reported on, or tried to be reported on," McGehee added. "So that part of it, I don't think there is going to be any problem with. I know a lot of guys [in Japan] spend a lot of time in Tokyo. I know Tokyo isn't quite New York, but it's about as close as you're going to get. That's a pretty wild spot, too.
"I think he will actually be more comfortable in New York, where he kind of blends in. Of course, the baseball fans will pick him out, but not everybody is going to know who he is immediately."