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Tanaka heads to U.S. to meet with MLB clubs

Kyodo

Japanese ace right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who will aim to move to the major leagues through the new posting system, has already left for the United States to hold talks with big league clubs, informed sources told Kyodo News on Thursday.

Tanaka, 25, is scheduled to meet with the top brass of several teams on the West Coast and has planned to undergo a medical check during his short trip to the U.S., according to the sources.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported on its website that Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti has reached out to Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, who also represents Zack Greinke and lefty ace Clayton Kershaw.

“They’re in the feeling-out process,” Colletti was quoted as saying, when referring to Tanaka and his other clients. “They’re trying to learn a lot about different cities, different markets, different teams, how teams are constructed. It’s a big decision for the player, too. We’ll continue and see where it goes.”

Tanaka, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, is expected to sign a contract worth more than $100 million. Additionally, the team that lands the coveted pitcher will owe the Japanese club $20 million, the maximum posting fee allowed under the new system.

The New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks are also among the teams who have expressed strong interest in bidding for Tanaka.