NEW YORK - The bidding for star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has begun.
All 30 major league teams have been notified that the 30-day period to sign the 25-year-old right-hander began on Thursday, according to Major League Baseball spokesman Michael Teevan. Clubs have until Jan. 24 to attempt to reach an agreement with the ace.
If Tanaka and a MLB team come to terms, that franchise is required to pay his club, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, a posting fee, now capped at $20 million under a deal reached two weeks ago between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball. Under the old, no-limit system, the Texas Rangers paid over $50 million for the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish before the 2012 season.
Tanaka will be represented by Excel Sports Management during the process. Other Excel Sports clients include Los Angeles Dodgers two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Rakuten rejected the new posting system but was outvoted in balloting by Japan’s 12 teams. The Japan Series champion then said it was going to retain Tanaka, whose rights it holds for two more seasons.
Eagles president Yozo Tachibana, however, changed course on Wednesday, saying Tanaka deserved a chance to play in the majors. Tachibana cited Tanaka’s 24-0 regular-season record with a 1.27 ERA and his “outstanding contribution to the team” over seven seasons as reasons for choosing to post the player.
Masahiro Tanaka won his first Japan Pro Sports Award on Friday after going 24-0 during the season and leading the Rakuten Eagles to their first Japan championship.
“Our team became Japan champion, and I have received so many honors,” Tanaka said. “I’m so happy to close it out by receiving this wonderful award.”