At this time last year, the baseball world was wondering whether Japan’s Rakuten Golden Eagles would post star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka for the 2014 season.
They did, and the New York Yankees invested in the right-hander’s future with a monster seven-year, $155 million contract after a winning bid of $20 million to secure negotiating rights. Tanaka, meanwhile, went on to surpass all reasonable expectations with a dominant rookie campaign, albeit one that was shortened due to a right elbow injury.
Teams that came up short in the Tanaka sweepstakes may have a chance this offseason to land the next big-name pitcher to come out of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, Kenta Maeda, though that depends on whether his team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, decide to make him available via the posting system.
Should that happen, the 26-year-old would be one of the most sought-after pitchers on the market, especially after he allowed two hits over five scoreless innings against accomplished MLB hitters in last month’s Japan All-Star Series.