LOS ANGELES -- After finalizing four contracts on Christmas Eve, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he was happy with his 40-man roster and mostly done tinkering. But this was before the biggest gift of all became available, with Japanese starting pitcher about to be posted by the Rakuten Eagles.
Rakuten president Yozo Tachibana made the announcement on Wednesday that the team would allow Tanaka to move on to the MLB, which was the pitcher's wish.
"I don't want to discuss that yet," Colletti said in a conference call on Tuesday, before news that Tanaka would be posted.
Colletti was focused on the four deals that were finalized on Tuesday, with third baseman Juan Uribe and relief pitchers J.P. Howell, Chris Perez and Jamey Wright all joining (or re-joining) the team, officially.
Perez joins Brian Wilson and Brandon League as experienced closers setting up Kenley Jansen. Colletti said, with six relievers including Jansen under contract for 2014, the plan isn't to trade some of the excess pitchers but rather use them for depth.
"You never get through a season without a strong bullpen, especially in our league, especially in our division," Colletti said.
Wright pitched well for the Dodgers in 2012, then pitched even better for the Rays in 2013. Colletti said at times in 2013 he wished he was more aggressive in bringing Wright back last year. But now Wright is back, and Colletti thinks he will help League, who struggled mightily in 2013. Wright and League were teammates in Seattle in 2010 and 2011, and in Los Angeles for the final two months of 2012.
Colletti said the team will probably acquire one more infielder, and specifically mentioned Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke as strong possibilities for the bench. Other than that, the current 40 players on the roster likely won't change much before pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch on Feb. 8.
Of course, that was before news of Tanaka about to become available.
The Dodgers have expressed interest in the 25-year-old right-hander, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA with Rakuten in 2013, and led them to a victory in the Japan Series.
''I'm grateful to the team for allowing me to try. Now I've made a first step,'' Tanaka said, per the Associated Press. ''I hope I would receive offers from as many teams as possible so I have a wider option.''
Under the terms of the new agreement between MLB and NPB, once Tanaka is officially posted Rakuten will set the release fee, which in Tanaka's case will be the maximum of $20 million. The pitcher will have 30 days from the posting date to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs, and if he comes to a contract agreement during that time his new club will have to pay the release fee to Rakuten.
So Tanaka is essentially a free agent with a $20 million tariff. Let the shopping begin.