Conflicting reports re Dodgers' interest in Masahiro Tanaka

Koji Watanabe

Los Angeles wants the Japanese free agent, and the current administration has yet to lose out on a player who it wants.

The Dodgers will go "all-out" in pursuit of free agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and they "won't be out-bid," according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:

Or maybe they won't:

Tanaka has until Jan. 24 to sign with a major league club. The Dodgers' current ownership hasn't been afraid to spend over the last two years, but with over $200 million already committed for 2014 and a Kershaw extension that could set a record in the offing, it makes sense that they might at least pause before throwing their entire stack of chips at Kershaw. Add in that Tanaka's real value, despite his dominance in Japan, is unknown and you have a reason to spend, but not beyond some reasonable limit.

Nevertheless, with the Yankees dabbling in financial prudence for the first time in decades, Los Angeles has emerged as the clear fiscal heavyweight in the current major league landscape with no apparent limit to their spending. They have shown the ability to sign the big-ticket star (ex: Greinke) and the willingness to roll the dice on international talent (ex: Yasiel Puig, Ryu, Alex Guerrero), so if the race for Tanaka turns into a straight-up bidding war then it's hard to see anyone but the Dodgers coming out on top. The two sides have already begun speaking as Tanaka begins to gauge the market for his service.

If the Dodgers do indeed sign the 25-year-old Tanaka then they will be making another kind of statement by spending lavishly to add to a major piece to an area of the team which is already strong. Bagging the right-hander would give Los Angeles arguably the best starting rotation in baseball and would send a message to the rest of the league that they will go to any length to bring a title to Southern California. The Dodgers already have two aces in reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and former Cy winner Zack Greinke to go along with Korean left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu and veteran Dan Haren. Adding Tanaka would mean that the team wouldn't have to rely on the questionable health of Josh Beckett and/or Chad Billingsley, who combined to make only 10 starts in 2013.

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