Daily Distractions: Dodgers, others still waiting on first domino to fall in free-agent pitching market.

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka will not be able to come to the United States until a new posting system is agreed to by MLB and NPB. (Associated Press photo)

Tim Hudson is off the board.

So is Jason Vargas.

So when will the Dodgers jump into the free-agent fray and sign a starting pitcher?

A few days ago, I was doing an interview with a Japanese television station that was interested in gauging the level of interest and awareness about Masahiro Tanaka in the United States. Frequently, the question of how good Tanaka might perform in the U.S. was raised; as the presumed cream of the free-agent crop, I guessed that the bar is being set pretty high.

And because he is considered the cream of the crop, Tanaka has the potential to hold up the market until MLB and NPB can agree to a new posting system. In my interview I theorized that a new posting system might cause a domino effect on the entire free-agent pitching market, with Tanaka becoming the first domino to fall.

That appears to be the case now, at least for the Dodgers and several other teams that have been linked to Tanaka. The Giants and Royals must have decided internally that they weren’t going to enter the bidding war, so they moved on with Hudson and Vargas, respectively. Confirmation was buried in this story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press which mentions, among other things, that the Minnesota Twins have shown “initial interest” in signing Chris Capuano:

Bidding on Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka has yet to open as Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball continue to haggle over a new posting system.

A Twins official recently called Tanaka “a key domino, from the financial to the ability.”

“For sure,” the official added, “he is a major linchpin in the pitching market.”

So while the Dodgers kick the tires on some of the second-tier free agent pitchers — Dan Haren has been reported, and there are certainly others — those pitchers might be nothing more than Plans B, C, D, E, and so on.

Some bullet points for a Lebanese Independence Day:

BaseballAmerica.com identified Matt Magill as a player to watch in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Writes Ben Badler:

The arrows were pointing in the right direction for Magill after the 2012 season, but mechanical issues derailed his 2013 season. Normally sharp with his control, Magill lost command of the strike zone in 2013, walking more batters than he struck out in six major league starts and average 5.3 walks per nine innings during his time in Triple-A. His lower half got out of sync with his delivery, something he’s been working to get back on track with while pitching for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican League. The early results—11 runs and nine walks in 16 1/3 innings—suggest he’s still not back to 2012 form yet.

• From the hot stove, Part 1:

• Part 2:

Here’s a recent Q&A with prospect Corey Seager.

• Jack Moore, writing for The Score, delves deeper into how air travel enabled the Dodgers to move west.

Bill Mueller left the Dodgers’ pro scouting staff to become the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs.

• Aaron Neville recorded “Hercules” in 1973. This recently released remix by Mr Doris is pretty fantastic:

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