HOUSTON -- While the Astros aren't believed to be one of the five teams that are in the forefront for the race to land Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka, owner Jim Crane acknowledged Tuesday the club has made a push to sign him.
"We have an interest in Tanaka," said Crane, who added he hadn't been updated by general manager Jeff Luhnow on Tuesday about where the Astros stand. "I know he's been working on it, so I don't have any breaking news."
The Astros have long been considered a long shot to sign Tanaka, but it certainly doesn't hurt for them to go through the process. It's not known whether the Astros submitted a formal offer.
The team deadline for teams to complete a deal with Tanaka is 4 p.m. CT on Friday, and the Cubs, White Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and D-backs are the favorites to land the right-hander, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan last season.
"It says we're interested in picking up a very quality pitcher to bolster our rotation," Crane said. "We think we've got some guys coming up, and in a few years you could look with [Mark] Appel and a few of the other guys on the team, one of the best starting rotations in baseball if we were able to add him in there. We do have some talent besides that. We'll draft first again this year and that very well could be a pitcher. You'll see a strong starting rotation here very soon."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.