Masahiro Tanaka: Rakuten reverses course, will post pitcher to big leagues

UPDATE II: This is going to be our final update on this story because it has seriously gotten nutty. There are now three reports stating that Rakuten WILL post Tanaka, and one saying the team will not (see update below). 

UPDATE: Now another story has popped up claiming Rakuten will NOT post Tanaka. This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder. 

After weeks of back and forth wavering, a report on Tuesday suggests the Rakuten Golden Eagles now plan on posting star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka for bids to Major League Baseball teams. Last week, reports surfaced that Rakuten was determined to hold on to their ace for at least another season.

Masahiro TanakaGiven the soap opera that has been going on in regards to Tanaka, who knows if this will actually happen, but it does signal a shift from Rakuten and the team appears ready to move on from him. It is also an announcement that will change the free agent landscape in the major leagues.

It is expected that Tanaka will secure the highest possible bid for his services, which is now $20 million. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if half of all the big league teams go after him. If there are multiple maximum bids, every team that hits that mark will get a chance to negotiate with Tanaka and his representatives.

The 25-year-old hurler went 24-0 in 2013, with a 1.27 ERA, 183 strikeouts and 32 walks in 212 innings. He won the Japanese version of the Cy Young and the MVP award while leading Rakuten to a Japan Series championship.

Some consider Tanaka the top Japanese pitcher to ever be posted stateside, and he should easily command $100 million for his first contract.

The fact that Rakuten has changed its tune once again and will now post him is a big deal. Tanaka is going to be a very rich man shortly if the Golden Eagles do actually let him go.

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