Sendai, Japan (4E Sports) – Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 with the Rakuten Golden Eagles last season, has hired an American agent as the posting period for Major League teams interested in his services begins Thursday morning.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Casey Close will serve as Tanaka’s agent. Close also represents Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Derek Jeter.
The posting period for Tanaka will begin Thursday morning and will be completed by Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. During that period, Tanaka will have to sign with a team by that date and teams can bid the $20 million posting fee starting Thursday morning.
Only the signing team will pay the Rakuten Golden Eagles the $20 million posting fee while teams don’t have to place a formal bid, but have to be willing to pay the fee if they sign Tanaka.
All 30 teams can negotiate with Tanaka but he doesn’t have to meet with every team.
Tanaka led the Golden Eagles to the Japan Series title, is expected to set off a feeding frenzy. The right-hander has also starred in the World Baseball Classic, and he’s gone 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons in Japan.
The 25-year-old Tanaka is a two-time Sawamura Award winner, which is annually given to the best pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball.
He pitched in the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic for his country, and he came back to pitch for Japan again in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Early reports said the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Braves, Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks are the frontrunners to obtain Tanaka’s services.
The news of Tanaka’s posting brought an end to a long saga that had taken up much of the offseason and forced interested clubs to wait for a resolution.
First, MLB and NPB had to work out an agreement on a new system. Now, with the new rules, posting bids cannot exceed $20 million, which may widen the field of suitors for Tanaka.