ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, by signing outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, have shown they are willing to pursue the top free agents on the market.
Now they have six more weeks of shopping before Spring Training starts, and Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has just emerged as the top prize on the free-agent market.
Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan this past season, has been posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Under the new rules, clubs have until Jan. 24 to sign him to a contract and pay a $20 million posting fee.
Because the posting fee is limited to $20 million, more clubs are expected to at least express interest in Tanaka than other Japanese stars who came before him. The Rangers paid a $51.7 million posting fee two years ago when they signed pitcher Yu Darvish.
But Tanaka, who is represented by veteran agent Casey Close, will also likely command a significant contract. Between the posting fee and the final contract, a club could still end up committing over $100 million to sign Tanaka.
That's something the Rangers will have to consider as their busy offseason continues and general manager Jon Daniels looks at a way to add pitching depth. The Rangers have already added significant payroll by adding Choo and first baseman Prince Fielder.
"We're probably comfortable where we are in terms of financial commitments," Rangers co-chairman Bob Simpson said. "Tanaka would be a tough thing. We aggressively went after Yu, who we are fortunate to have. I guess I should never say never, but at the moment, we're more interested in just rounding out our team than marquee players."
With the addition of Fielder and Choo, the Rangers could end up with an Opening Day payroll of around $130 million once they have signed the rest of the 40-man roster.
"It's in that range and maybe more next year," Simpson said before being asked if it could go higher if needed.
"I don't think so," Simpson said. "But again, never say never. You may hit a situation in the summer or something may come up that you just didn't see that isn't that much more money."
Rangers expect Cruz to sign elsewhere
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers not only signed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, they also gave him the No. 17 jersey. That was Nelson Cruz's number during his time with the Rangers. Cruz remains a free agent, and Choo's signing makes it a near certainty that he is not returning to the Rangers.
General manager Jon Daniels spoke with Cruz on Saturday after reaching an agreement with agent Scott Boras on Choo.
"I'm not going to 100 percent close any doors, but I think realistically his best opportunity may be elsewhere and I'm expecting him to sign elsewhere," Daniels said.
If that happens, shortstop Elvis Andrus and first baseman Mitch Moreland would be the only two players left from the Rangers' starting lineup from Game 6 of the 2010 American League Championship Series, when they beat the Yankees and advanced to the World Series for the first time in club history.
Cruz, who was acquired in a trade from the Brewers on July 26, 2006, is sixth all-time in Rangers history with 157 home runs and 14th with 489 RBIs. His .495 slugging percentage is ninth best among Rangers players with at least 1,000 at-bats.
Daniels said the Rangers still would like to add a right-handed bat as a possible platoon complement to Moreland at designated hitter. Michael Choice, a right-handed-hitting outfielder who was acquired from the Athletics on Dec. 3, is one possibility.
"We've already pushed through the budget," Daniels said. "You know us, we're always going to do our due diligence, but our focus right now is we could use a right-handed bat to complement Mitch and complement some other things we're doing. Pitching depth, we always like to shore that up. That's where our focus is.
"We have Michael Choice. We have a number of guys we brought in this winter. We have some options, but we're always looking to add some depth and improve where we can."
• The Rangers have designated first baseman Chris McGuiness for assignment to make room for Choo on the 40-man roster. McGuiness played in 10 games for the Rangers this past season and hit .176 with no home runs and one RBI.
• The Rangers talked earlier this offseason about giving Leonys Martin a chance to win the leadoff job. But manager Ron Washington said Choo will be his leadoff hitter, giving Martin more time to develop at the bottom of the order.
• Boras represents the top four hitters in the Rangers' lineup: Choo, Andrus, Fielder and Adrian Beltre. Said Boras, "The Fearsome Foursome. This is the first Fearsome Foursome ever in Texas."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.