PHOENIX -- Los Angeles Dodgers assistant general manager Logan White was in Japan earlier this week to scout Tsuyoshi Wada, a left-handed starter for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Pacific League, a source close to the team confirmed on Wednesday.
However, the Dodgers' interest in Wada, who will be eligible for free agency this winter and thus won't require a posting fee before a major league team can sign him, is only preliminary.
Wada, 30, entered this season with a 41-31 record and a 3.30 ERA in four seasons with the Hawks, during which he made 88 starts and two relief appearances. This year, he is 13-5 and ranks third in the Pacific League with a 1.70 ERA.
One concern with Wada, the source said, is whether he can adjust to pitching every fifth day, as starting pitchers in the U.S. major leagues normally do, instead of once a week as starters in the Japanese leagues do. This, however, is a common concern with most Japanese pitchers looking to jump to the U.S., and alleviating that concern is all part of the routine scouting process for such players, that process tending to be lengthy.
The Dodgers, whose signing of pitcher Hideo Nomo in 1995 began the ongoing trend of Japanese players coming to the U.S., haven't signed a player out of Japan since Hiroki Kuroda, who as a free agent in the winter before the 2008 season accepted a three-year, $35.3 million deal with the Dodgers. Kuroda re-signed with the Dodgers last winter for one year and $12 million, but says he hasn't yet decided whether he will remain in the U.S. next season or return to finish his career with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, for whom he pitched for 11 years before coming to the U.S.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.