• Kyodo

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An unspecified major league team earned the negotiation rights to Chunichi Dragons right-hander Akinori Otsuka for $300,000 (32 million yen) under the posting system, officials of the Central League club said Wednesday.

The Dragons are set to accept the offer, which will in turn give the highest bidder 30 days to negotiate a deal with Otsuka, who was put up for auction for a second time after failing to draw a bid from the major leagues last off-season.

“I can’t be any happier. I had to wait a full year, but it was worth it in the end. Even though I know there will be a lot of rivals, I hope to win a spot as the closer and do my best in the United States too,” Otsuka said.

Should Otsuka and the major league club strike a deal, the 31-year-old will become the third Japanese player to make the move to the majors under the posting system after Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhisa Ishii.

After the 2000 season, the Seattle Mariners won the rights to Ichiro for $13.12 million and Ishii joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002 following a successful bid of $11.26 million.

Otsuka, who won top honors as the best reliever in 1998, went 1-3 with 17 saves and a 2.09 ERA in 51 games this year.

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