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The Dodgers want Masahiro Tanaka, but how much will they spend to get him?

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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Star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is, basically, the biggest free agent on the market. And what do we know about the Los Angeles Dodgers these days? Money isn't a problem.

Once he was made available to MLB teams, the Dodgers were immediately one of the top suitors for Tanaka, 25, who was 24-0 last season in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league with a 1.27 ERA. But just how much will they pay? That's a good question and we got two different answers Friday from USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Then about an hour later:

What does this tell us? The market for Tanaka — like Nightengale's gauge of the Dodgers' spending plans — can change rather quickly. He projects as an ace, and since he's only 25, likely has his best years ahead of him. That means teams who aren't traditional big spenders or win-now candidates might be pony up for Tanaka's services too.

No doubt it will be expensive. Tanaka comes with a $20 million posting fee that the winning team must pay to his NPB club, the Rakuten Eagles. Then there's Tanaka's contract, which experts believe will be at least $17 million per year and total more than $100 million.

The small posting fee — newly capped at $20 million, a minuscule amount compared to the $51.7 million the Texas Rangers paid to Yu Darvish's former club — will likely mean bigger dollars for Tanaka.

Money makes the Dodgers and Yankees the top candidates in the Tanaka sweepstakes. But many other teams are in too, including the Chicago White Sox, who have already met with the pitcher and his reps.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Thursday that Tanaka and his agent Casey Close are meeting with as many as six teams per day. The Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels have all been linked to Tanaka. Even the stingy Oakland Athletics have been mentioned as a dark-horse candidate.

While it'll be interesting to see how much the Dodgers and Yankees are willing to pay Tanaka, it'll also be fascinating to see whether a smaller team can emerge to challenge baseball's biggest spenders.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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