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Murata mulls options for future

Kyodo

Yokohama BayStars All-Star slugger Shuichi Murata said Tuesday he is leaning toward declaring free agency.

Asked if he is considering not exercising his rights, the 29-year-old third baseman said he would likely test free agency to buy more time in deciding whether to leave Yokohama, which has been his home since 2003.

A bidding war for the former two-time Central League home run king could occur if he makes himself available.

“It’s difficult to make a decision like this in a week, when you’ve spent eight years working to earn the right,” Murata said. “I wouldn’t rule out (not becoming a free agent) completely, but unless you exercise your rights, you have so little time to think things through.”

Players eligible for free agency must decide on using their rights within seven working days after the Japan Series ends. Murata, with eight years’ worth of service, has qualified for domestic free agency.

Murata, who hit .257 to go with 26 homers and 88 RBIs, has not had contract talks with the BayStars since their season finished.