New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155 million contract last month, has obtained a work visa and could depart Japan for the United States as early as Sunday, according to reports.
Tanaka, 25, received his visa on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, and is preparing to report on time to the Yankees' spring training camp in Tampa, Fla., with the rest of the club's pitchers and catchers.
The Yankees' report date for pitchers and catchers is Feb. 14, with their first workout scheduled for Feb. 15 at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Position players are scheduled to report on Feb. 19, and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 20.
Tanaka has been working out in Sendai, Japan, and told the AP, "I am in better shape at this point compared to previous years."
Last week, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer confirmed that his office helped expedite Tanaka's paperwork.
"My office works tirelessly to help constituents every single day, but it's not often you get a call from a constituent like the New York Yankees," Schumer told the New York Daily News.
Tanaka said when he signed last month that the Yankees gave him the highest "evaluation." They also gave him the largest contract offer.
"To become world champions," he said of his motive for joining the Yankees at a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 23. "I'm going there to win the World Series."
Tanaka is the fifth-highest paid pitcher in Major League Baseball before delivering his first pitch.
Tanaka has played seven years in Japan. There is some concern that he threw too many pitches and innings, averaging more than 110 ptiches in the past five seasons.
In 2013, Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 games (27 starts), allowing 168 hits and 32 walks with 183 strikeouts. He tossed eight complete games and two shutouts with one save.
Over the past three seasons, Tanaka was 53-9 with a 1.44 ERA, 30 complete games and 11 shutouts in 77 games (76 starts), striking out 593 batters with just 78 walks.