WEDNESDAY, 3:32pm: Tanaka's posting will begin Thursday morning and be completed by January 24th at 4pm CT, a source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). Teams can place their bids – up to $20MM, of course – starting tomorrow morning (link).
TUESDAY, 9:50pm: Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana announced that Tanaka will be posted, according to a tweet from Sankei Sports tranlsated by Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).
9:23pm: The Golden Eagles will announce momentarily that Tanaka will be posted, according to Jim Allen of Kyodo News (on Twitter).
5:35pm: The Rakuten Golden Eagles have decided to post star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, according to reports from Japanese outlets Sponichi (link) and Nikkan Sports (link). It's a turnaround from reports last week that indicated the Golden Eagles were leaning against allowing Tanaka to make the jump to MLB.
One MLB source tells David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com (on Twitter) that he believes the Cubs will not be outbid for Tanaka's services. Convincing Tanaka to come to Chicago, however, could prove to be problematic, according to that source. "This is exactly type deal that Theo [Epstein and] Jed Hoyer will be all in on. However, will Tanaka say no to the [Yankees, Dodgers, and others]? Not sure he will," the source told Kaplan (link).
Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (Twitter link) adds that the Angels and Diamondbacks – who have been quite vocal about their fondness of Tanaka and overall need for a frontline starter – should also be in the mix for his services. Tanaka being posted also means good news for other free agent pitchers who have been in a holding pattern as clubs have waited for the top domino to drop.
Rakuten was planning a record NPB offer for Tanaka – roughly $7.7MM USD – but that's significantly less than what he's expected to get from an MLB club. One GM recently told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that Tanaka was certain to receive a deal worth more than $100MM if posted.
Per the Sponichi report, team President Yozo Tachibana acknowledged that the process is moving into its final stage. When asked if the team was set on a decision, Tachibana said, "Yes, it looks that way … We're completing the final procedures."
It seems likely that the Golden Eagles have been dragging their feet in large part because of the reduced posting fee that they would receive under the new system. While the Japanese clubs holding the rights to predecessors such as Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish saw major financial windfalls, the new system caps Rakuten's maximum posting fee at $20MM.
Special thanks to Aaron Steen for his Japanese translation.