Japanese pitcher Igawa to pursue MLB career

11/10/2006 - MLB

TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa of the Hanshin Tigers was given permission by his club to pursue a career in the major leagues.

Igawa, who would have had to play in Japan for three more seasons before he could become a free agent, will be posted by the Tigers, team officials said Friday.

Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Seibu Lions and infielder Akinori Iwamura of the Yakult Swallows have already been put up for bid under the same system.

Major league teams can bid to secure the negotiating rights for the Japanese players. After being awarded the negotiating rights for the highest bid, the team has 30 days to sign the player.

Igawa went 14-9 last season with a 2.97 ERA. He struck out 194 to tie Chunichi Dragons right-hander Kenshin Kawakami for the Central League lead, adding to the strikeout titles he won in 2002 and 2004.