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Masahiro Tanaka posting period to begin Thursday, per reports

The Japanese ace right-hander has reportedly chosen Casey Close as his agent and will have until Jan. 24 to negotiate a contract with a major league team.

Koji Watanabe

The MLB free agent market is about to add a front line pitcher, with Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka about to be posted by the Rakuten Eagles of the NPB. The posting period for Tanaka is expected to begin on Thursday morning, per reports from Mark Feinsand and Joel Sherman of the New York Daily News and Marc Carig of New York Newsday.

The posting period lasts 30 days, meaning Tanaka would have until 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 24 to reach an agreement with a major league team.

Under terms of the new posting agreement between NPB and MLB, there is a limit of $20 million on the bid MLB teams must pay the NPB team for the rights to the player. With the new rules, the Rakuten Eagles set the release fee ahead of time, which in Tanaka's case is expected to be the maximum $20 million.

Tanaka will have 30 days to negotiate with all 30 MLB teams, and if he reaches a contract agreement, his new team will be required to pay the release fee to Rakuten. Tanaka has also reportedly chosen Casey Close as his agent, per Sponichi in Japan.

The 25-year-old right-hander was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Eagles during the 2013 regular season, and led them to the Japan Series title. The Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs and Rangers are expected to be among the many teams interested in Tanaka's services.

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