The Yokohama DeNA BayStars announced they posted Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo on Friday, paving the way for him to sign with a major-league club, according to Kyodo News.
Tsutsugo now gets 30 days to sign a contract in the majors. The team that signs him must pay the BayStars a percentage of his contract as a posting fee, as outlined in the posting agreement between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball.
If he doesn't sign, Tsutsugo would return to the BayStars. The posting system is his only present path to the majors, as he's not eligible for international free agency until 2021.
The 27-year-old is considered one of the top hitters in NPB, boasting a career .285/.382/.528 slash line with 205 home runs, 613 RBIs, and 532 walks over 10 seasons with Yokohama. Tsutsugo is a five-time NPB All-Star, and he's been selected to the Central League's "Best Nine" team three times.
His best season came in 2016 when Tsutsugo led the Central League in home runs (44), RBIs (110), and slugging (.680) en route to a Best Nine selection.
He also represented Japan in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, hitting .433/.680/.320 with three homers in seven games, earning the MVP nod in Pool B.
Tsutsugo has primarily played left field in Japan, but he's considered a weak defender and could transition to first base in the majors.
Several MLB teams have already shown interest in Tsutsugo, BayStars executive Kazuaki Mihara told Kyodo. While a full list of teams isn't known, earlier this week Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins confirmed his club is pursuing the standout hitter, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
Tsutsugo's agent is hoping his client will be signed by the end of baseball's winter meetings on Dec. 12, Mihara said.