Masahiro Tanaka rumors: Blue Jays confirm interest in Japanese ace

Koji Watanabe

The Blue Jays rotation was pitiful in 2013 as it was ravaged by both injuries and ineffectiveness. The team is hoping to change that for 2014.

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters Friday the team has made overtures to Masahiro Tanaka, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

More Masahiro Tanaka news: Dodgers have met with Tanaka's agent

Tanaka certainly has received plenty of interest over the past two weeks, with the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Mariners, and more all chasing him. Yankees GM Brian Cashman appears to be "consumed" with Tanaka while the Dodgers may or may not be willing to outbid anybody to acquire his services. Meanwhile, the Mariners were an early favorite to sign him and the Diamondbacks are going hard for him as well. Even the Athletics may be a potential landing spot.

It has been expected Tanaka will sign a contract worth over $100 million. He has been seeking a deal worth around $17 million a year and with the teams involved, there is a chance he could eclipse even that. Any team that does sign him must also pay a $20 million release fee to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, whom Tanaka played for in Japan.

Tanaka must come to an agreement with an MLB team by the afternoon of Jan. 24 or he will be required to return to Japan for another year.

The Blue Jays have kept their eye out for a pitcher to fill out their rotation. Currently, the team has R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ heading the starting staff with Drew Hutchison, Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond duking it out for the fifth spot.

Toronto would like to improve upon that as they hope for a rebound season in the always-tough AL East. They have been listed as favorites to sign one of Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. They have also looked into Matt Garza this offseason.

In 2013, Blue Jays starting pitchers combined for a 4.81, the second worst number in the majors and only ahead of the Twins. Depth will also be on the team's mind after being ravaged by injuries last year. Dickey and Buerhle were the only pitchers to make 30 starts while Rogers was the only other to reach 20 starts.

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