Masahiro Tanaka is 99-35 in 175 career starts in Japan. He went 24-0 last… (Associated Press )
It might be somewhat backward, but it makes sense that Japanese free-agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is in Los Angeles to have a medical exam.
Even though he is only 25, Tanaka already has thrown more innings (1,315) than any pitcher his age in the majors in the last 35 years since Frank Tanana.
Tanaka is in town to have his medical exam Thursday, which will then be released to teams interested in bidding on the right-hander, The Times has learned. Teams that have expressed interest include the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees, Cubs, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Mariners and Rangers.
Though Tanaka is scheduled to be in Los Angeles for only a couple of days, there have been reports he is meeting with teams.
Under the new agreement, teams will have to pay Rakuten –- his current club in Japan –- a $20-million posting fee. It’s then expected to cost a team over $100 million to sign him.
As his agent, Tanaka chose Casey Close, who also represents Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the Rakuten Eagles.
General Manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday that the Dodgers had reached out to Tanaka, whose camp was still in the “feeling-out process.”
“We’ll continue and see where it goes,” Colletti said.
But Thursday in a radio interview, team President Stan Kasten appeared to try to downplay the Dodgers’ interest in Tanaka.
“You can be assured we’ll investigate everything and, if there’s a way that it made sense, I’m sure we would consider it,” Kasten told Mark Willard and Ben Lyons on KSPN-AM (710). “But I wouldn’t predict it, I wouldn’t hang our hat on it, because I think the team we have right now in place is ready to go to spring training, ready to start the season and ready to compete and win. That’s what we’re all here for.”
That simply might be a lot of gamesmanship. Last season the Dodgers spent $147 million to sign Greinke and $36 million to sign Hyun-Jin Ryu to their rotation.