NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With Alex Rodriguez suspended for all of 2014, the Yankees suddenly have some more money to spend.

Good timing, as the pursuit of Japanese starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is heating up.

The Yankees have reportedly been interested in the 25-year-old for months now — well before he was posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball.

And according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, who translated a report from Japanese media outlet Sports Hochi, the Yankees are one of three major-league teams that Tanaka will consider signing with.

The other two are the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Sports Hochi report has the Yankees as the favorite to land the hottest pitcher on the market, but Hernandez isn’t putting much stock into that.

The five-time NPB All-Star was brilliant for the Golden Eagles last season, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA. He’s expected to sign a contract worth more than $100 million.

On Friday, Ken Gurnick of wrote that the Dodgers “aren’t nearly as likely to engage in a bidding war for Japanese free-agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka as they were a year ago when they landed Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.”

Whereas the Dodgers have a formidable starting staff led by studs Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Bronx Bombers desperately need to add a starter — or two. The only locks for next season’s rotation are CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova.

The clock is ticking, as Tanaka has until Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. to sign a deal with a major-league team. If an agreement isn’t completed, he’ll return to his native Japan.

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