Masahiro Tanaka has chosen Casey Close of Excel Sports Management as his agent, according to a report from Sponichi (Japanese link) passed along by Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). As the MLBTR Agency Database shows, Close also represents Dodgers pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke and Yankees star Derek Jeter, among many other MLB notables.
Last night, Tanaka’s club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, announced that they will post the star pitcher, allowing him to make the jump from Japan to MLB. The free agent pitching market has been in somewhat of a holding pattern because of the Japanese sensation. Once Tanaka puts pen to paper with an MLB club, it’s expected that dominoes will start to fall rapidly for free agent starters such as Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Yankees, and Cubs have been among the clubs most frequently linked to Tanaka, but there should be many more teams with serious interest in landing the 25-year-old. The team that signs Tanaka will almost certainly have to fork over the maximum $20MM posting fee to his NPB club, but it’s a tax that is well worth paying for those that feel he is far and away the premier pitcher available this winter.