Dodgers have scouted Masahiro Tanaka


The best pitcher in the Japanese league has already lured both Southern California teams across the Pacific.

The Dodgers, like the Angels, have scouted Japanese right-handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, according to a source. Tanaka is 21-0 with a 1.24 ERA for the Rakuten Eagles and he could benefit from what is a mediocre crop of free-agent pitchers on the market this fall.

The Dodgers signed a 19-year-old Japanese prospect, Takumi Numata, to a minor-league deal Monday. They likely scouted Tanaka while they were there.

The Dodgers will go into 2014 with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu in their rotation, but they have some uncertainty beyond that. Ricky Nolasco will be a free agent and Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett are coming off serious injuries.

Speculation is that teams could have to pay $25 million or more to Tanaka’s team just to win the right to negotiate with him. The Dodgers paid Ryu’s Korean team $26 million before signing him to a six-year, $36 million deal in December.