Updated 07:10 AM EST, Sat, Feb 27, 2021

Masahiro Tanaka To Be Posted By MLB Teams, New York Yankees Remain Favorite To Sign Japanese Star Pitcher

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The Masahiro Tanaka drama in Japan ended on Wednesday after his Japanese club announced that they will allow the star pitcher to leave, reversing its earlier decision to keep him for one more year.

Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana announced the decision of the club to allow MLB teams to acquire Tanaka in a news conference in which he expressed gratitude to the 25-year-old pitcher for his superb service to the club in the past seven years.

Tanaka is still under contract with the Golden Eagles and the club had the rights not to allow Tanaka to be posted by MLB teams. Previous reports suggested that the Golden Eagles were preparing an offer Tanaka wouldn't refuse -- an offer that would have made him the highest-paid pitcher in Japan.

The right-hander pitcher caught the attention of MLB teams after his impressive performance for the Eagles, tallying a 24-0 record with 1.27 ERA.

Tanaka who also had 53 complete games and 18 shutouts that rank among the best MLB pitchers today expressed gratitude to the Golden Eagles for allowing him to make the big jump to the Major League in the upcoming season.

"I'm grateful to the team for allowing me to try. Now I've made a first step," Tanaka said in an Associated Press interview via ESPN. "I hope I would receive offers from as many teams as possible so I have a wider option."

Tanaka is expected to attract interests from several deep-pocketed teams, including the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, and the Boston Red Sox. All these teams are expected to make the $20-million maximum bid for Tanaka, which is the effect of the revamped posting system.

The Yankees, who are still looking to complete their starting rotation, are considered as the favorite to sign Tanaka. The Yanks were an overwhelming favorite before the new posting agreement was agreed upon, but the change in the posting rules did not affect their status as the most likely destination of the Japanese pitcher.

The Yankees previously aimed to be under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold next season, but the goal won't stop them from making a bid for Tanaka, who is expected to command at least $100 million in salary.

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