- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.