Masahiro Tanaka delivers a pitch in the WBC vs Cuba. Mandatory Credit: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac
Major League Baseball and the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan appear to be at an impasse. With the MLB/NPB posting agreement in currently in limbo, it’s becoming increasingly unclear if Masahiro Tanaka will be pitching in North America for the 2014 baseball season.
In what was a strange turn of events, according Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times after revisions to the new proposed posting system were approved by the Japanese players’ union on Thursday the offer was suddenly taken off the table by Major League Baseball. MLB chief operating officer gave Rob Manfred gave the impression that the move was made due to the lack of a timely response from the NPB.
"“We made a proposal to the Japanese. When we made that proposal, we told them it was important that they give us a timely response. Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to do that. In today’s [owners] meeting, there was discussion that will require us to go back to the Japanese and have some further conversation about the proposal that sat out there for a long time. We’ll have to go back and talk to them about where we are right now.”"
The existing posting agreement that helped that Texas Rangers land Yu Darvish had been previously terminated, which had allowed the highest bidding team exclusive negotiations with the posted player and there is not yet an agreement in place for a new system.
There were rumored changes to the process, specifically that the new posting fee would be an average of the top two bids, which would in theory decrease the expense for bidding MLB teams and also allow the posted player more choice in his destination. However David Waldstein who covers the Yankees for the New York Times has been hearing a different reason for the current offer being pulled back so quickly.
It’s unclear whether or not the Toronto Blue Jays would seriously target Tanaka even if he was made available. However this development could impact their pursuit of other free agent pitchers this off-season.
If the 25-year-old Tanaka isn’t posted an already weak pitching pool would suddenly become even weaker. Many have assumed that Tanaka was destined to become a member of either the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers who already have the two highest payrolls in MLB.
But if delays continue and concerns grow over the eligibility of Tanaka both teams could choose to look elsewhere, which would most likely drive up the asking price of the other top free agents pitchers. With Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ricky Nolasco the remaining belles of the ball all could potentially command even more money if the Yankees or Dodgers decide they want to tango.
It still remains to be seen what will come from this situation and if it will be resolved but in an off-season when the Toronto Blue Jays biggest need is quality starting pitching the prospective available talent pool may be getting even smaller. For a team with as many payroll commitments as the Jays, getting into a bidding war with the Yankees or Dodgers is not a battle they are likely prepared to win this winter.
But perhaps being outbid for one of this year’s free agents is a better scenario for the Blue Jays than having to face Masahiro Tanaka in pinstripes for the next decade.
As per an update from Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors it appears as though the posting system is not in jeopardy and talks will re-open shortly. According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, sources say that Tanaka will in fact be posted this winter.