Japanese starting pitcher Tanaka to be posted

Highly sought Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is apparently headed to the big leagues.

The Rakuten Eagles will allow the 25-year-old right-hander to be placed into the new posting system approved recently by MLB and NPB, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Posting fees are limited to $20 million, payable by the major-league club that signs him to a contract.

"I'm grateful to the team for allowing me to try. Now, I've made a first step," Tanaka told the AP. "I hope I would receive offers from as many teams as possible so I have a wider option."

The Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Mariners are among the teams expected to pursue Tanaka. Other clubs, such as the Angels and Rangers, could get involved as well.

Posting will begin Thursday and conclude Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. ET, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. From there, the winning team(s) can negotiate a deal with Tanaka.

Eagles president Yozo Tachibana told reporters during a news conference in Japan that Tanaka, who has two years left on his NPB contract, earned the right to enter the posting system with his outstanding performance over the last seven seasons, the AP reported. Rakuten had initially balked at allowing him to come over to MLB.

Tanaka, 25, went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and a 5.72 K/BB in 212 innings for Rakuten this past season. He is widely considered the best pitcher on the market this offseason, though no one actually knew if he would be made available to MLB clubs. The free agent pitching market has been frozen waiting for Rakuten's decision.

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