Despite attempts to keep him for at least another season, the Rakuten Golden Eagles decided to post ace right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for an MLB bid, according to reports from Sponichi and Nikkan Sports, via CBS Sports.
The 25-year-old Tanaka is widely considered to be the top pitcher in Japan and possibly the top free agent on the market. There was some question as to whether Rakuten would post Tanaka for bidding and the team was reportedly willing to pay him $8 million if he did not get posted.
An official announcement hasn't been made, but if reports are true Tanaka will become one of the first players posted under the new system. MLB and NPB recently agreed to a new posting system which limits the bidding fee to $20 million, but allows any MLB team willing to pay the release fee the right to negotiate with the posted player. That is drastically different from the previous system, where MLB teams took part in a blind auction with the winner having exclusive negotiating rights. The new system could cost Rakuten upwards of $40 million, but will allow multiple teams to negotiate for Tanaka's services.
The Dodgers, Mariners, Yankees, Cubs, Angels and Rangers have been among the teams mentioned with possible interested in Tanaka. He went 24-0 for Rakuten last season, posting a 1.27 ERA. The MLB market for free agent pitchers has had very little action while teams waited to see if Tanaka would be posted. Things could start to liven up now, especially once the 30-day negotiating window expires and Tanaka either signs or returns to Japan.