The New York Yankees wasted no time in a pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka.
All 30 major league teams were notified that the 30-day period to sign the 25-year-old right-hander began at 5 a.m. PST Thursday, and an industry source said the Yankees have been in contact with Excel Sports Management's Casey Close, whom Tanaka recently designated as his agent.
After going 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Japan Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles last season, Tanaka is expected to command a contract worth around $100 million.
Texas, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are also likely candidates for Tanaka, who has until Jan. 24 to sign a contract if he intends to pitch in the big leagues next season.
Under the old system, clubs submitted blind bids called posting fees, with negotiating rights going to the highest bidder. The posting fee was compensation to Japanese teams.
Under the new system, any team can enter into negotiations with a player, so long as the club consents to a $20 million fee once the player signs.
Arsenal is on top of the English Premier League heading into the second half of the season. Liverpool's stay at No. 1 lasted less than a week. Arsenal won 3-1 at West Ham behind Theo Walcott's two goals, and Liverpool lost 2-1 at Manchester City. Liverpool fell to fourth, behind No. 2 City and No. 3 Chelsea, who beat Swansea 1-0 on Boxer Day.
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray lost 7-5, 6-3 to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his comeback match from a three-month injury layoff at the Mubadala Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Murray hadn't played since mid-September because of a back complaint.