Masahiro Tanaka picks the Yankees, but what does it mean for the Dodgers?

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Colletti was aggressive in pursuing Tanaka to complement a rotation that already includes the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner in Kershaw, another former Cy Young winner in Zack Greinke, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu and right-hander Dan Haren.With less than three weeks before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, Josh Beckett is the front-runner for the Dodgers’ final rotation spot. The 33-year-old right-hander went 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA last season before undergoing thoracic outlet surgery in July. He is expected to be healthy when camp opens. Chad Billingsley, who had Tommy John surgery last April, isn’t expected to be healthy enough to pitch until June. He made just two starts last season.For all their uncertainty, the Dodgers won’t need a fifth starter until April 19, thanks to a series of off-days early in the regular season. At least on paper, Tanaka’s other suitors had a more pressing need for a top-of-the-line starter. According to, the Astros were the first team to meet with Tanaka on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles and their final offer exceeded $100 million. That’s a stunning testament to the perceived value of Tanaka; Houston’s total 2013 payroll didn’t exceed $30 million.The New York Times reported Wednesday that Hideki Matsui made a recruiting call to Tanaka on the Yankees’ behalf. Trey Hillman, the Dodgers’ bench coach last year who previously managed in Japan, was reportedly part of the Yankees’ eight-man delegation that met with Tanaka.The Cubs and White Sox were both intent on making Tanaka the centerpiece of their rebuilding efforts, while the Diamondbacks reportedly made a six-year offer. They were the only other National League West team involved in the bidding.The Angels did not meet with Tanaka or his agent, Casey Close, and were not involved in the bidding.Tanaka was the first player available through a new system that limited the posting fee to $20 million and allowed multiple major league teams to negotiate with the player. Under the previous system, only one MLB team could negotiate with the player, and there was no limit to how much teams could bid to negotiate. The Dodgers, having already signed Clayton Kershaw this month to the largest contract ever given a pitcher, watched the New York Yankees sign off on the fifth-largest deal Wednesday.Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka agreed to a seven-year, $155 million contract, choosing New York over Los Angeles, and at least four other teams who submitted bids. The Yankees and Chicago Cubs reportedly made the largest offers to Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 earned-run average last year in Japan’s top league. The Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros also bid on Tanaka after submitting the $20 million posting fee. The Yankees will pay the posting fee to Tanaka’s team in Japan, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, bringing the total cost to $175 million.Tanaka can opt out after the fourth year of his contract, which also includes a full no-trade clause, according to Jon Heyman of Kershaw signed a seven-year, $215 million deal last week to become the game’s highest-paid pitcher. Only Kershaw, Justin Verlander (7 years, $180 million), Felix Hernandez (7 years, $175 million) and C.C. Sabathia (7 years, $161 million) are guaranteed more money than Tanaka.The Dodgers spent a record $239 million in payroll in 2013 and have a good chance of passing that number again in 2014 even without Tanaka. General manager Ned Colletti has been coy about his interest in starters other than Tanaka. His immediate focus might shift to adding a veteran infielder or re-signing his two arbitration-eligible players, closer Kenley Jansen and catcher A.J. Ellis.The Dodgers could also use the money they saved to bolster their rotation with a free-agent starter such as Matt Garza or Bronson Arroyo. They are loathe to sacrifice their 2014 first-round draft pick to sign either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, both of whom turned down qualifying offers last fall.A more tantalizing option is Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price, who recently re-signed an affordable one-year, $14 million contract. But any trade for Price would cost multiple top prospects, which would set back the Dodgers’ efforts to rebuild their farm system.last_img read more