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Japanese reliever Hiroyuki Kobayashi eyeing move to MLB

Nov 10, 2010, 11:18 AM EDT

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Japanese reliever Hiroyuki Kobayashi is reportedly looking to sign with an MLB team and because the 32-year-old right-hander is a free agent he won’t require a “posting fee” to negotiate with like starter Hisashi Iwakuma and infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Formerly a starter, Kobayashi moved to the bullpen this season and saved 29 games with a 2.21 ERA and 53/13 K/BB ratio in 61 innings. Sunday he pitched in Game 7 of the Japan Series as his team, the Chunichi Dragons, won the championship in extra innings.

According to Kyodo News he’s “expected to begin the free agency process as early as Monday.”

Kobayashi isn’t considered an elite pitcher in Japan, but he has a strong track record in both the rotation and bullpen. He’ll likely be viewed as a relief option by MLB teams and quite a few Japanese relievers have been standouts in America, including Takashi Saito, Hideki Okajima, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Akinori Otsuka, Shingo Takatsu, and Shigetoshi Hasegawa.

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