Rakuten president Yozo Tachibana made the announcement Tuesday night, according to multiple sources, ending the long back-and-forth that had left the pitcher's status in limbo.
The highly sought Tanaka is expected to command roughly $100 million, with bidding expected to be driven up by the Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs, Diamondbacks and the Yankees, who have extensively scouted the righthander.
Expect MLB's Christmas rush for this year's Cabbage Patch Kid to begin before the last egg nog is poured.
Tanaka is considered one of the crown jewels of the offseason. The 25-year-old went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 2013 and led the Golden Eagles to the Japan Series title.
Rakuten controlled Tanaka's rights through 2015 season, but under the new posting system between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, U.S. teams can bid up to $20 million for the right to negotiate with Tanaka. If multiple teams tie for the high bid, they can all deal with Tanaka. Only the team that Tanaka agrees to go to actually has to pay the $20 million "release fee" to Rakuten. The fee does not count against a team's luxury tax bill.
"I'm grateful to the team for allowing me to try. Now, I've made a first step," Tanaka told the AP. "I hope I would receive offers from as many teams as possible so I have a wider option."
The Yankees seem to be an ideal fit. According to people with knowledge of the team's thinking, Tanaka has long been an attractive target, especially with a rotation that could use a live young arm.