SENDAI – Tohoku Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka told the Eagles he wants to play in the major leagues in the near future as the All-Star right-hander signed off on a three-year, ¥1.2 billion extension Saturday.
And the team, it appears, is willing to oblige.
“I did tell them it’s what I want to do in the future,” said Tanaka, the 2011 winner of the Sawamura Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young. “I was out with an injury at one point, but it was nice of them to still appreciate what I did this season.”
The 24-year-old Tanaka, who went 10-4 with a 1.87 ERA despite back trouble, received an annual raise of ¥80 million, taking his base salary to ¥400 million. The contract also includes performance bonuses.
The 188-cm Tanaka, a member of Japan’s 2009 World Baseball Classic team, also led the Pacific League in strikeouts with 169 and won a Golden Glove for the second straight year.
The deal will take Tanaka into the 2015 season, the earliest he will be eligible for overseas free agency. The Eagles, however, would let Tanaka go early through the posting system and will discuss the issue with the pitcher each offseason.