The Yomiuri Giants officially broke with tradition on Tuesday when they made pitcher Shun Yamaguchi available to major league teams by completing his posting system application.
The 32-year-old is the first player the Giants have posted since the system was introduced after the 1998 season.
Major League teams will be able to negotiate with the right-hander starting at 8 a.m. Eastern time in the United States on Tuesday. Clubs agreeing to pay an amount equal to a fixed percentage of the pitcher's contract will have 30 days to conclude a deal or Yamaguchi's rights for the 2020 season will revert to the Giants.
Yamaguchi had the best year of his career in 2019, his fourth full season as a starter. He went 15-4 with a 2.91 ERA. His .789 winning percentage and 188 strikeouts led Japan's Central League, while he tied for the league lead in wins.
The son of a former sumo wrestler, Yamaguchi was taken in the first round of the 2005 high school draft by the Yokohoma (now DeNA) BayStars. By the end of his fourth pro season, Yamaguchi had established himself as the team's closer.
In 2012, he become the youngest player in Nippon Professional Baseball with 100 saves. After a difficult 2013 season, Yamaguchi was thrust into the starter's role and his career was rejuvenated.
After going 11-5 in Yokohama in 2016, Yamaguchi filed for domestic free agency and joined the Giants with the secret understanding between the parties that he would be posted at an unspecified time in the future -- a step the Giants had never publicly entertained before.
Although the split-fingered fastball had been a regular part of his arsenal from his days with Yokohama, his mastery of the pitch during his three years with Yomiuri has been a difference maker in his results.
According to analytics website Delta Graphs, Yamaguchi has -- for the past two seasons -- had the most effective splitter of any pitcher qualifying for a league ERA title in NPB.
Yamaguchi has a career record of 64 wins, 58 losses, 112 saves with a 3.35 ERA.