Led by a pair of 33-year-old right-handed pitchers, this year's class of Japanese free agents is rather mediocre.
Amateur right-hander Junichi Tazawa became the first Japanese player to announce he would bypass the Japanese pro draft and sign as a free agent with an MLB team.
The Cubs won the Kosuke Fukudome bidding with a $48 million deal, and the multiskilled right fielder should be a solid investment.
In Hiroki Kuroda, the Dodgers get a ground-ball pitcher with a special knack for cranking up the intensity in late innings.
Turning the Royals around won't be easy, but after managing in Japan, new skipper Trey Hillman is used to overcoming challenges.
The pressure for easier access to top Japanese talent is likely to build as a result of the struggles regarding Daisuke Matsuzaka's deal.
The nation of Japan would be devastated if Daisuke Matsuzaka failed to reach an agreement with the Red Sox.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, his team and the Japanese public at large were stunned by the Red Sox's bid. It's the talk of Japan.
Like Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura is a lock to play in the major leagues in 2007.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Japan's premier pitcher, is headed toward a 2007 premiere in the majors.
In Sunday's Pool A finale of the World Baseball Classic, Japan felt the Korean boom.
Japan pounded out nine extra-base hits in an 18-2 rout of China on Friday in Pool A play at Tokyo Dome.
A procession of major-league pitchers helped Korea hold off bitter Asian rival Chinese Taipei 2-0 in the WBC opener on Friday.
Sunday's WBC Pool A action will feature Chinese Taipei vs. China, while the Tokyo Dome finale pits Asian titans and longtime rivals Japan and Korea in the first round of a conflict that will spill over into California.
Forget Hideki Matsui and Tadahito Iguchi. Japan is going places without them in the World Baseball Classic.