TOKYO -- Japanese pitcher Ryota Igarashi of the Yakult Swallows has filed for free agency, saying he wants to play in the U.S. major leagues.
A total of 87 players in Japan's professional leagues became eligible for free agency Monday. Japanese players must wait nine seasons before becoming free agents to test the overseas market or eight seasons to change teams within Japan.
Igarashi, a 30-year-old right-hander used primarily as a relief pitcher, went 3-2 with three saves and a 3.19 ERA in 56 games. His best season was 2004 when he had 37 saves and 86 strikeouts in 66 games.