Japanese right-handed starter Masahiro Tanaka generated a lot of buzz after he was posted last week by his team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles; however, not much has been reported since then. Teams have until January at 2 pm PST to work out a deal with him as talks are expected to heat up next week after the long holiday break.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have long been rumored to be one of the teams in pursuit of the 25-year-old and it seems like they’re still considered one of the favorites to land him. According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, the Dodgers are among a few teams with a legitimate chance of signing Tanaka:
Sources expect the Cubs, Dodgers and Yankees to be strongly in the mix for Masahiro Tanaka too. Several teams sent top scouts to watch him.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) January 3, 2014
The Dodgers have been linked to Tanaka because of management’s willingness to spend on international talent and uncertainty in the back end of the rotation. Badler believes the Seattle Mariners are the favorites for the right-hander’s services, with a sleeper team being the Detroit Tigers. The organization has been quiet on the subject of Tanaka and haven’t expressed specific interest in signing him.
Tanaka will likely receive a multi-year deal worth anywhere from $15-20 million per year after being pegged the best starting pitcher available this off-season. He went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the Golden Eagles and is the best pitcher to come from Japan since Yu Darvish signed with the Texas Rangers.
The Dodgers currently have a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett but could strengthen that area with Tanaka. The starting pitcher’s agent is the same as Kershaw and could give the Dodgers a small advantage in negotiations. A strong Japanese presence in Los Angeles could also tempt the 25-year-old in his decision.
With previous reports suggesting he wants to play on the West Coast, the Dodgers continue to look like an attractive team for him to sign with.
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