Iwamura officially available to MLB

Iwamura officially available to MLB

Akinori Iwamura, a left-handed-hitting, Gold Glove-winning third baseman, is the latest Japanese star made available to Major League clubs through the posting process.

The Yakult Swallows formally posted the slightly built but powerful 27-year-old on Monday afternoon, starting the bidding process among teams that are interested in negotiating rights to him.

The deadline for MLB teams to submit their bids is Friday at 5 p.m. ET. Thereafter, the Commissioner's Office will inform Yakult of the highest bid -- but not reveal the source team. If the Swallows accept the bid, it would become their compensation for losing Iwamura, but only if he signs a big-league contract.

Although somewhat eclipsed by the interest in ace right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, Iwamura has already been targeted as a prized acquisition by numerous teams looking for help at the hot corner.

Teams reportedly interested are the Padres, Indians, Red Sox and Phillies. The Cubs may also become involved should negotiations to re-sign Aramis Ramirez snag.

Iwamura has been a legitimate double threat in Japan, having batted .300 with 30-plus homers in each of the last three seasons in the Central League, and has also been awarded five consecutive Gold Gloves for fielding excellence.

At 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, he doesn't fit the mold of the prototypical big-league third baseman, but he measures up with the yardstick of performance.

A career .300 hitter, he has totaled 188 homers and 570 RBIs in eight seasons. His power peak came in 2004, when he hit 44 home runs.

Iwamura was the starting third baseman for the champion Japanese during the inaugural World Baseball Classic last March, batting .389 in the six games.

His run-production numbers sagged last season, to 32 homers and 77 RBIs, but he batted .311 and enhanced his on-base performance by drawing 70 walks.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.