How Kershaw's decision affects Tanaka

Will left-hander Clayton Kershaw sign a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers? Denis Poroy/Getty Images

It was sometime in the middle months of last season that the Los Angeles Dodgers dangled the idea of what would essentially be a lifetime deal in front of Clayton Kershaw -- a whopper contract for something in the range of $300 million. At that time, Kershaw, pitching in the middle of a season with high stakes for the Dodgers, deferred the conversation.

So here we are in early January, and it could be that, as with the Don Mattingly talks, Kershaw and the Dodgers will soon finish dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and close the deal they started discussing a long time ago.

But Kershaw is now just 10 months from free agency, and for many players and agents, getting this close would almost certainly mean testing the open market. If there is, in fact, an impasse in the Dodgers-Kershaw negotiations -- if, in fact, he wants to explore his options -- this will shape Los Angeles’ aggressiveness in its pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka.

By now, the ambition of the Dodgers’ ownership is apparent: They want to rule the baseball world.