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Masahiro Tanaka rumors: Diamondbacks are 'serious suitors', can afford ace

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Tanaka is still Arizona's number one priority.

Koji Watanabe

The Arizona Diamondbacks are still considered to be heavily involved in the bidding for Masahiro Tanaka, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.

Several major-market clubs have shown interest in the Japanese ace, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, and Angels. The Mariners have also emerged as one of the favorites to win the bidding for Tanaka, but as Rosenthal notes, Arizona can't be "ruled out."

The team's genuine interest in outfielder Shin-Soo Choo earlier in the offseason indicates that they have the payroll flexibility to add a $100 million contract, and reports suggest the team would have escalated their efforts to land Choo if their deal for Mark Trumbo had deteriorated.

The deadline for Tanaka negotiations is January 24th, so negotiations might not pick up until closer to that date. The team that eventually comes to an agreement with Tanaka will pay his Nippon League club -- the Rakuten Golden Eagles -- the $20 million release fee agreed to in the new posting system agreement between NPB and Major League Baseball.

Tanaka is reportedly looking for at least $17 million annually. A commitment of that magnitude would push the D-backs to well over $100 million in payroll for the 2014 season, but they appear willing to stretch their budget to its limit in order to improve on back-to-back 81-81 finishes.

Arizona's rotation was headlined by lefties Pat Corbin and Wade Miley last season, but their starters struggled as a unit, finishing 12th in the National League in ERA. Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, and Randall Delgado are expected to fill out the group as it stands now, but if Tanaka is added to front end, one of those players could become expendable.

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