The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles will allow ace right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma to move to the major leagues through the posting system, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Monday in its online edition.
Iwakuma, 29, is 101-62 in his career with a 3.32 ERA since turning pro with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes in 2000. In 2008, he won the Sawamura Award as Japan's premier starting pitcher and the Pacific League Most Valuable Player despite the Eagles finishing fifth that season.
Marty Brown, his manager this past season with the Eagles, said Iwakuma's success in the majors will depend on his ability to adjust his game.
"It all depends on whether he can stay healthy on four days rest," Brown told The Daily Yomiuri by phone.
"All the pitchers who go over there have to adjust from the very beginning. They have to change their game somewhat because the [major league] lineups are so strong all the way through. He can't go full counts on everyone and expect to complete games. But he's got a good sinker and can get a lot of ground ball outs."
Iwakuma's breakout season came in 2003, when he went 15-10 at the age of 22. He followed that with a 15-2 mark in 2004. When Kintetsu folded that autumn, Orix claimed him in the distribution draft against his wishes. Iwakuma held out until being sold to Rakuten prior to the 2005 season.
Players can be posted from Nov. 1, with major league teams having four business days to submit sealed bids. After that, the Eagles will have four days to accept or reject the final bid without knowing which team made the bid.
If Rakuten accepts, the high bidder will have 30 days to sign Iwakuma. If no deal is reached he returns to the Eagles and no money changes hands.