Japan’s Masahiro Tanaka is available, but Dodgers don’t commit yet

Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka hopes to be playing in the major leagues next season.
(Kazuhiro Nogi / Getty Images)

The Dodgers are “pretty much done” with their winter shopping, General Manager Ned Colletti said Tuesday.

But Colletti declined to say whether the Dodgers would make an exception for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who is coming to the major leagues.

Tanaka’s current team announced on Christmas Day in Japan that it would permit the 25-year-old starting pitcher to pursue his dream of pitching in the United States. The Rakuten Golden Eagles initially resisted moving their ace because of new rules that will prevent them from receiving more than $20 million for his rights.


“Evaluating Tanaka’s contributions in the seven years since joining the franchise, owner Hiroshi Mikitani accepted his wish to challenge himself in the major leagues and decided to petition for him to be posted,” Golden Eagles President Yozo Tachibana said, according to Japanese news reports.

When posting Tanaka, the Golden Eagles will designate the “release fee” that a major league team would have to pay them if it agrees to a contract with him. Any team willing to pay the fee, which is capped at $20 million, would be free to negotiate with Tanaka.

The Dodgers, Angels, New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs are among the teams that are known to have scouted Tanaka, who is widely expected to sign for more than $100 million.

Before the Golden Eagles’ announcement, Colletti was asked whether the Dodgers would pursue Tanaka if he were posted.

“I’m not going to discuss that yet,” Colletti said.

Colletti spoke on a conference call after the Dodgers announced their deals with relievers Chris Perez, J.P. Howell and Jamey Wright, as well as third baseman Juan Uribe. Colletti said the only item remaining on his wish list was a utility infielder and insisted he wasn’t stockpiling relievers to set up a trade. He noted that closer Kenley Jansen, left-hander Paco Rodriguez and the since-departed Ronald Belisario all ranked in the top nine in the National League in appearances in what were categorized as “high-leverage situations.”

“We have to spread it out more,” Colletti said.

Colletti was confident Matt Kemp would be ready to play when the Dodgers open their season against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia on March 22. Kemp is recovering from shoulder and ankle operations.


Colletti set a more cautious timetable for Chad Billingsley, predicting for him to return in June. Billingsley is recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Twitter: @dylanohernandez