TOKYO (AP) -Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda is making all the moves of a player headed to the major leagues.
Kuroda, a 32-year-old right-hander, filed for free agency Monday saying he was ready for a new challenge in his baseball career.
``There is no turning back now,'' Kuroda said. ``I have to learn many things about the teams I'm interested in and I want to hold discussions with my agent about the negotiations that lie ahead.''
With the success of pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima with the Boston Red Sox, interest in Japanese players this offseason is expected to be high.
Kuroda was 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 26 starts this season for the Hiroshima Carp. He is 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA in 11 seasons, all with Hiroshima.
Local media has reported Kuroda has no interest in returning to Hiroshima or playing with another Japanese team.
He led the Central League with 15 wins in 2005 and had a league-best 1.85 ERA in 2006.
Kuroda is permitted to talk to teams from Nov. 14. A total of 68 players from Japanese professional baseball are eligible for free agency this year.
Kuroda has a fastball in the mid-90s mph and excellent control. The Seattle Mariners and the Chicago Cubs are reportedly interested in the veteran right-hander.
Other potential candidates for a move to the majors are outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and reliever Hitoki Iwase of the Japan Series champion Chunichi Dragons. Both players are eligible for free agency.
Iwase, who recorded the final three outs of the perfect game in Game 5 of the Japan Series, is widely regarded as the leading closer in Japanese baseball. The 33-year-old left-hander had 40 or more saves in each of his last three seasons with the Dragons, including 43 this season. He has a 1.97 ERA over nine seasons in the pro leagues.
Fukudome, a key player on Japan's championship team at the World Baseball Classic in March 2006, had surgery on his right elbow in August and sat out the Japan Series, but has 192 homers and a .305 batting average over nine seasons with the Dragons.
Many have compared his defensive skills in the outfield to those of Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki.
Other players that are eligible for free agency and could draw interest from major league teams are third baseman Takahiro Arai of the Hiroshima Carp and outfielder Kazuhiro Wada of the Seibu Lions.
Arai is a 30-year-old, power-hitting infielder with a career 194 homers and .297 batting average, while Wada has 177 homers and a .317 average over 11 seasons with the Lions.
Chunichi Dragons right-handed reliever Masafumi Hirai has also indicated he is interested in giving the major leagues a try.
``I'm leaning toward free agency,'' said Hirai, who went 4-2 with a 3.29 ERA in 45 games. The 32-year-old made relief appearances in Game 3 and 4 of the Japan Series, pitching a total of 1 1-3 scoreless innings for the Dragons.

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Chicago aims to bounce back vs. Cleveland After hammering the Cubs in last night’s World Series opener, the Indians can’t wait to get back to the field for Game 2. Thankfully for the hosts, their...
Thumbnail World Series opener pits Lester vs. Kluber Two title-starved organizations are ready to kick off one of the most intriguing World Series matchups we’ve seen in some time.
Thumbnail Kershaw tries to keep visitors' run going The Cubs seized a 3-2 edge in the NLCS by winning Games 4 and 5 in Los Angeles. Will Clayton Kershaw be able to save the Dodgers’...
Thumbnail North Siders' bats rise as NCLS progresses Anthony Rizzo is still batting well below .200 in the playoffs. Yet the Chicago first baseman seems to be heating up at precisely...
Thumbnail Hosts ask Urias to give them 3-1 NLCS edge Tonight, Julio Urias will make history in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Dodgers simply hope that it’s for all the right reasons.
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Team Pages