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Dodgers interested in Masahiro Tanaka, luxury tax be damned

Within one week we will find out the destination of the hottest ticket remaining on the free agent market, and the Dodgers are very much in play.

Adam Pretty

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are still in pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, general manager Ned Colletti confirmed on Friday, as the team looks to add to it's already expensive, and formidable, pitching staff.

Colletti was at Dodger Stadium at a press conference announcing the $215 million deal for ace Clayton Kershaw, who like Tanaka is represented by agent Casey Close, who also represents Zack Greinke.

"I've talked to Casey, not yesterday, but every other day this week," Colletti said "We'll continue to talk to him next week."

Tanaka was 24-0 with an eye-popping 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Eagles in the NPB in 2013, his third straight season with an ERA under 2.00. The 25-year-old right-hander was posted by Rakuten on December 26 and has until January 24 at 2 p.m. ET to sign with an MLB team.

More Tanaka

The Dodgers aren't the only team interested in Tanaka, with the Yankees, Cubs and White Sox all in play according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Any team that signs Tanaka would have to pay a $20 million release fee to the Eagles, though it will be split into installments.

But money doesn't seem to be an issue for the Dodgers, who already have $240.675 million committed to 22 players in 2014, and adding the to-be-determined salaries of the arbitration-eligible A.J. Ellis and Kenley Jansen will have roughly $248 million committed to 24 players, and that's before adding Tanaka and his expected $20 million or more per season.

The Dodgers paid $11.4 million in competitive balance tax in 2013 for their roughly $243 million payroll, with everything above $178 million taxed at 17.5%. In 2014 the threshold rises to $189 million and the Dodgers as a repeat offender will now owe 30% for every additional dollar they spend.

"It's an expense we are well aware of, and we understand to the decimal point what all the costs are," said president CEO Stan Kasten.

Colletti reiterated his desire to add another infielder to the roster, and said the team remains in contact with Michael Young.

Even with all the money already committed, Kasten said the team is still able to add another high-priced player like Tanaka.

"Nothing precludes anything else. Everything has to be evaluated independently, and it's what I asked Ned and his people to do. When there is something that makes us better in a way we regard as sensible, we would do it irrespective of whatever we may or may not have done before that," Kasten said. "I know it's generic, but that's actually how we evaluate everything: does it make sense for us now for what we can do?"

After Kasten said this, Colletti, who was sitting next to him, chimed in: "That's a great quote."

Kershaw, now the highest paid player on the team said he didn't think it was his place to advise the front office on potential transactions.

"I don't think I want to be a part of that. I think Ned and Stan and the ownership group, and Donnie or whoever else has the authority to make that decision. That's what they're paid to do and what they're good at," Kershaw said. "If they ask me about our current team, what I like or don't like or anything like that, or some of the guys on the team, different perspectives we might have, I'd be all for that. But as far as certain acquisitions, I'm probably the least educated on that so there's no need to ask me about it."

Kershaw was asked what he thought of potentially being a teammate of Tanaka.

"From what I hear, he seems like a great pitcher," Kershaw said. "If he's a great pitcher, it definitely can never hurt, but we'll see what happens."