Takahashi, 34, was 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA in 25 games this past season. He was 79-66 with a 3.70 ERA in 245 career games for Yomiuri.
Takahashi's best season was 2007, when he went 14-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 28 games. He saved 15 games in 2006, when the Giants used him as a reliever.
"I decided I wanted to try out for the Majors three days ago," Takahashi said, according to sponichi.co.jp. "If I didn't have confidence in myself, I wouldn't have made the decision. I want to go to a team that needs me. I'd be extremely happy if I'm used as a starter."
Takahashi started Game 4 of the Japan Series against the Nippon Ham Fighters and lost, giving up five runs on six hits in five innings in an 8-4 loss. The Giants won the series, four games to two.
Takahashi said at a news conference that he wants to follow in the footsteps of former teammates Hideki Matsui and Koji Uehara. Matsui is a free agent after playing the past seven seasons with the Yankees. Uehara signed as a free agent with the Orioles in January and went 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA in 12 starts.
"It's a dream I have," Takahashi said. "And I'd like to attain that dream. Seeing Uehara in the Majors, that made me want to go to the Majors even more. I want to return to the days of being a rookie and take on this new challenge."
Bobbie Dittmeier is an editor/producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.