According to Joel Sherman at the New York Post, there are some significant changes coming to the posting system between Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball, and they may not favor a team like our Toronto Blue Jays.
If Sherman’s sources are correct, the posted player will be granted the ability to choose between the top 2-3 bidders before entering into exclusive negotiations with the chosen team. This is a change from past seasons, where only the highest bidder was granted the ability to negotiate with the player for 30 days. If no agreement was reached, the player returned to his Japanese team to be posted the following season.
The new rules, expected to be in place by November 1st, could impact the Blue Jays pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, the top Japanese pitcher to hit the posting system this winter, and likely the next big ticket to come to Major League Baseball from Japan. Posting video game statistics in any level of professional baseball will also have that effect.
Needles to say, Tanaka is generating a ton of buzz this season, with plenty of teams said to be in the mix, including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Texas Rangers. Toronto is also said to be interested, but to what degree is being played very close to the vest by Alex Anthopoulos and his team. However, the Blue Jays could be handicapped under the new ruling, even if they are the largest bidder during the posting period. By granting Tanaka choice in the matter, which I suppose is only right, Toronto is forced to compete with higher profile markets in order to lure him north of the border. Given their struggle to do that with our domestic free agents, the challenge to do so with Japanese players that often was the biggest stage could be staggering to overcome.
Should it keep Toronto from the pursuit? No. However, given the Blue Jays history of getting the big names to sign in the past, fans should undoubtedly temper their expectations of Toronto righting their past mistakes in the Yu Darvish pursuit by signing Tanaka.
It may still happen, but the odds have seemingly gotten a lot longer.