Padres, Cubs, White Sox interested in Fukudome

NAGOYA, Japan -- Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome told
the Chunichi Dragons he will not return next season, saying he
wants to make a move to the major leagues.

Fukudome, who became a free agent last month, informed the
Central League club of his decision Tuesday.

"I won't be playing for a Japanese club next season, I'll play
in the majors," Fukudome said. "I appreciate the fans who
supported me for nine years. I hope that the fans continue to root
for me when they see me playing in the United States."

Fukudome is regarded as one of the best outfielders in Japanese
professional baseball. The 30-year-old was a key member of the
Japan team that won the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March

He 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, who won their first championship in
53 years on Nov. 2.

Fukudome has drawn interest from the Chicago Cubs, the San Diego
Padres and the Chicago White Sox.

The Padres have made an offer to Fukudome, calling it "one of
the two or three biggest offers" in team history.