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Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s Hichori Morimoto has put the Fighters on hold, as the popular outfielder did not accept the team’s plea to remain in Hokkaido on Tuesday.

Morimoto, who has qualified for overseas free agency, met with team officials in Tokyo where they made him a new offer to stay, but the 29-year-old former All-Star did not give an immediate answer.

The Fighters are willing to keep talking, even if Morimoto decides to exercise his free agency rights.

“I could tell they wanted me,” Morimoto said. “I want to think things through before I give them an answer.”

“Part of me wants to stay when I think about the fans in Hokkaido. But another part of me wants to hear what other teams think about me. I’ll have an answer by the end of the Japan Series.”

Iwakuma up for grabs

NEW YORK (Kyodo) Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who is aiming to sign with a major league team, entered the posting system on Monday, according to a Major League Baseball official.

Mike Teevan, media relations manager for MLB, confirmed the posting to Kyodo News in an e-mail message, saying, “Iwakuma has been posted and the major league clubs have been notified.”

The 30 major league teams will have until Friday to submit sealed bids and the highest paying club will win the exclusive right to negotiate a contract with the player, upon approval of the price by his Japanese club.

Rakuten announced on Oct. 4 its decision to use the posting system for Iwakuma, but a club official said they will reject bids if the price is too low.

The 29-year-old piqued the interest of major league scouts after starting for Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic final.

Reports in the U.S. media said the highest bidding price is expected to be somewhere between $16 million and $17 million.

Iwakuma has a 101-62 career record with a 3.32 ERA over 10 seasons with the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Eagles. He went 10-9 with a 2.82 ERA in 28 games this season.

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