Rangers officials suggested at the Winter Meetings last month they would be willing to pay the $20 million posting fee needed to sign Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

That was before the Rangers signed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract. When the Choo signing was announced, Rangers co-owner Bob Simpson said it would be "tough" to sign Tanaka.

That's not going to keep the Rangers from at least exploring the possibility of fitting Tanaka into their budget and future plans. According to multiple media reports, Tanaka is in the United States along with his agent Casey Close and is expected to meet with interested clubs.

The Rangers prefer to work in stealth when it comes to free agents, so they aren't about to tip their hand when it comes to a possible meeting with Tanaka. General manager Jon Daniels admitted after the Choo signing that his next goal would be to add starting pitching depth, but he did not expand on the possible pursuit of Tanaka.

"You know us, we're always going to do our due diligence," Daniels said. "But our focus right now is we could use a right-handed bat … and complement some other things we're doing. Pitching depth, we always like to shore that up. That's where our focus is."

Tanaka would be more than pitching depth. He was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 27 starts and one relief appearance for the Rakuten Golden Eagles last year. He had a 0.943 WHIP and struck out 7.8 batters per nine innings. He also just turned 25 on Nov. 1. There may still be some debate if Tanaka is as good as Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, but it's obvious clubs feel confident Tanaka will step right into a Major League rotation.

The Dodgers and the Yankees are considered the favorites because of their financial resources, but the Angels, D-backs, Cubs and White Sox are also interested. The Mariners are considered a potential suitor because of their previous commitment in signing Japanese players, and the Red Sox have had at least preliminary discussions with Tanaka's camp. Most of the discussions with all teams seem to have been exploratory at this point.

Clubs have until Jan. 24 to sign Tanaka, and the process will likely go down to that deadline. At that point, the winning club will also have to pay the expected $20 million posting fee, although one report suggested the payments will be spread over 18 months.