SENDAI – The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles said Monday they have decided to allow right-handed pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma to sign with a major league club through the so-called posting system this winter.
The 29-year-old became eligible for domestic free agency this season after eight years of service with Rakuten and the Orix Buffaloes, but needed another year to qualify as an international free agent.
“I am full of gratitude to everyone associated with the club for allowing me this chance the year before I become a (international) free agent,” said Iwakuma.
“However a move has not yet been fixed, and I want to inform the fans once the team I will be playing for next season is decided,” he said.
Eagles vice president Atsushi Ikeda said the club had made Iwakuma an exception to the rule because of the contribution he has made to the team.
“In principle we are against simply letting players be posted but we have made an exception and cooperated as he (Iwakuma) has made a great contribution to the team since it was founded (in 2005),” Ikeda said.
Rakuten owner and club president Toru Shimada added, “Since the club was founded he (Iwakuma) has been a key player and put his all into helping the team win.
“We tried until the end to persuade him to say, but we accept he has a strong desire as an athlete to take this new step and we decided to grant him his wish.”
Iwakuma started for Japan in the final of the 2009 World Baseball Classic and has gained recognition among major league scouts.