Chiba Lotte Marines right-hander Hideaki Wakui filed for international free agency in a bid to continue his career in Major League Baseball, the Pacific League team said Wednesday.
According to a Lotte executive, the 13-year veteran, who won the prestigious Sawamura Award in 2009, will re-sign with the Chiba-based club if he does not draw any interest from major league teams.
“After careful consideration I decided this is a chance for me to explore new opportunities,” Wakui said.
The 31-year-old said that after the NPB season, he traveled to the U.S. to watch the World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers as a spectator, when he reconfirmed his desire to play in the majors.
“My heart overflowed with all kinds of emotions,” he said.
Wakui started his career in 2005 with the Seibu Lions as their first-round draft pick and moved to Lotte in 2014 as a domestic free agent. This year, he re-earned the free agency option, including international rights, with four years of service time on the active roster.
He went 5-11 with a 3.99 ERA in 25 games for the Marines this season, when the team finished in the bottom of the league.
Wakui led the league in wins three times, in 2007, 2009 and 2015. Over his career, he is 123-112 with 37 saves and an ERA of 3.99 in 377 games.