Many teams have contacted the 25-year-old Tanaka in hopes of signing him this winter, and he hasn't ruled anyone out of the bidding. However, the Japanese right-hander apparently has his eye on pitching in a big market, and the feeling is mutual in some cases. The Dodgers have shown interest and may or may not go all-out in their pursuit, and the Yankees and Angels are also expected to meet with him. On the other hand, the Red Sox are unlikely to add another piece to their rotation and the Mets have not been connected with the bidding.
However, the big-market teams aren't the only ones who plan to make a run at Tanaka, as evidenced by recent stories connecting the Athletics (link) and Diamondbacks (link) to the pitcher. The Cleveland Indians have also been in contact with his agent and could join the fray as they search for a front-line starter, according to Paul Hoynes of the Northeasy Ohio Media Group. The Indians lost Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez from last year's squad, although Jimenez remains unsigned, and they could use another big arm to slot next to Justin Masterson at the top of their rotation. Cleveland currently has Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister in line behind Masterson, with several candidates expected to fight for the role of fifth starter.
Regardless of where Tanaka ends up, the rest of the starting pitching market is waiting for him to sign. Quality arms including Jimenez, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo are still available as free agents, but all of the teams who are expected to go after those pitchers are currently occupied by their pursuits of Tanaka. No team is willing to give up their shot at the big prize, and none of those hurlers are willing to sign early and forego the chance to create a bidding war for their services. Likewise, the trade market won't heat up until Tanaka has landed; Cincinnati's Homer Bailey will likely be available as a consolation prize, Chicago's Jeff Samardzija has been the subject of rumors all winter and Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes that the Red Sox could deal one of their excess starters when Tanaka's dust has settled.