Dec 6, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos answers questions during the MLB winter meetings at Hilton Anatole. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
According to the Japan Times, Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have come to an agreement on a new posting system for Japanese baseball players. The final agreement is currently being drafted and both sides are expected to sign off on it in the coming days.
Of the 12 teams in the Nippon Baseball League, only the Rakuten Golden Eagles were opposed to the new measure, which would place a $20 million maximum on the posting fee associated with every player made available. Of course, that would be because Rakuten is the team likely to post ace Masahiro Tanaka this winter, meaning they will no longer be in for the windfall that previous pitchers Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka netted for their respective teams.
The agreement is actually fairly simple, as seen in the pair of tweets from Ken Rosenthal below.
The system would cap the posting bids at $20 million, basically meaning that any team willing to pay the $20 million moves on to the next step. That next step is direct negotiations with the posted player, and any team willing to pay the $20 million is allowed to negotiate with the player involved. The player then chooses between the teams and contract offers presented.
The interesting note there, is that while the $20 million posting fee will still not apply to the luxury tax threshold, the contract still does. The move to direct negotiations with the player likely means the contract sizes awarded will be significantly higher than in past years, as teams no longer need to factor in a larger posting fee to their overall expenses.
That hurts a team like the New York Yankees, who are purportedly trying to stay below the threshold in 2014. The signings of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury are putting the Yankees close to that mark now, and the team still needs to determine its path with Robinson Cano, and at least two starting pitchers.
That may open the door for other teams, like our own Toronto Blue Jays, who could better handle the average annual value of Tanaka’s contract without necessarily approaching the luxury tax threshold. The Blue Jays could see a one-time investment of $20 million in the posting fee, and a healthy contract offering (no, I’m not going to throw a number out there) as a reasonable risk to take, especially for a club in a short “win-now” window.
Of course, the team also has to convince Tanaka that Toronto is a desirable destination and that the team will contend in 2014, both of which are items that been heavily sought after by Japanese pitchers in the past. Large markets like New York would still have the appeal there, but the new posting system does help to level that battleground a bit.
That said, Alex Anthopoulos may have to spin an acquisition of Masahiro Tanaka as his shot to make last season’s machinations work and sell Rogers on the idea of making such an investment. But it could be an investment that goes a long way for the team and the fan base.
Of course, that all hinges on whether or not Rakuten decides to pout and hold back Tanaka or post him.