Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka might have to wait a year or more to achieve his goal of pitching in Major League Baseball.
The right-hander, subject of much speculation this winter, likely will not be made available to North American teams by his Nippon Professional Baseball organization, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
"I informed my team that I would like them to allow me to test my abilities in Major League Baseball next season," Tanaka said Tuesday in Japan.
However, the odds of that occurring decreased recently when MLB and NPB reached a new agreement that caps the "posting" fee for players leaving Japan for North America at $20 million. Under the old system, the Japanese team losing a star player to the United States could receive much higher sums, often $50 million-plus.
The Japanese team only receives the fee if the MLB team receiving the player's rights reaches a contract agreement with the player.
Rakuten appears likely to decide that keeping Tanaka, 25, for the upcoming season is worth more than $20 million.
"I would like him to stay and help us win another championship," said Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana, whose team won its first Japanese title last season.
Tanaka was a key contributor to Rakuten's 2013 title run, going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in the regular season. He won the Eiji Sawamura Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award, for the second time in three seasons.
Tanaka will still be under the Golden Eagles' control after next season. He won't be eligible for free agency until the completion of the 2015 season.
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- Major League Baseball
- Masahiro Tanaka
- Rakuten Golden Eagles