Report: Masahiro Tanaka Remains Diamondbacks’ No. 1 Target

Masahiro TanakaThe Arizona Diamondbacks could slither their way into the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes.

Tanaka remains Arizona’s No. 1 target, and the Diamondbacks expect to stay involved in the bidding for the Japanese pitcher, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

The Diamondbacks reportedly were prepared to make a strong push for outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers, but instead acquired Mark Trumbo from the Los Angeles Angels. Arizona now has money to spend, and Rosenthal suggests the D-Backs could use the $140 million they had ready for Choo to make a hard run at Tanaka.

The Diamondbacks would like to add a starting pitcher this offseason. Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are available in free agency, but Arizona reportedly views Tanaka as a superior option. Jeff Samardzija and David Price are two potential trade targets, but the D-Backs reportedly found the Chicago Cubs’ asking price for Samardzija to be too high and are reluctant to make a run at Price because of both the Tampa Bay Rays’ demands and the left-hander’s contract.

Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 2013 while pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. The 25-year-old is expected to garner plenty of interest on the open market, and it’s believed he could command a nine-figure contract in addition to the $20 million posting fee that his signing team must pay Rakuten.

Rosenthal reports that Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, is discouraging the idea of teams meeting with his client in Japan, so the Diamondbacks aren’t expected to make such a trip. The Angels, Cubs, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners are among the other teams that have been linked to Tanaka.

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