Seibu Lions shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima on Wednesday became eligible to file for unrestricted free agency at the end of the season, having completed the necessary nine years of service.
Nakajima was posted by the Lions last autumn but failed to strike a deal with the New York Yankees, who won his exclusive negotiating rights through the posting system.
Nakajima had been looking to play for a team that would give him a chance to start, but New York ostensibly wanted him as a utility infielder. In lieu of a deal, he returned to the Lions for this season.
"I have plenty of time, so I want to think it over," Nakajima had said on Tuesday about his new status.
While posted players are restricted to negotiating only with the highest-bidding major league club, unrestricted free agents can negotiate with any domestic or overseas team they choose.
Nakajima could have exercised his right last year to move to another team within Japan, but his ambition is to experience major league ball and the Lions obliged him by putting him up for auction. The 29-year-old right-handed hitter is batting .276 with two home runs and has started all 43 of Seibu's games at shortstop.