After many twists and turns, Japanese superstar pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will finally be posted by his NPB team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles on Thursday morning. The 30-day window for Tanaka to reach a deal with a major league club will run to January 24th, 2014 at 5PM. The MLB.com story linked above pulls together information from several sources.
Under the new posting system, the NPB team comes up with a figure for a “release fee” that can not be set higher than $20MM. If multiple MLB teams agree to pay the release fee, the player will be able to negotiate with any of the teams that did so.
Tanaka’s posting will be the first under this fresh agreement and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. The posting fees had gotten ridiculous in recent years and the $20MM cap is supposed to level the playing field so that not only the big-market teams can acquire premium talent from Japan.
Maybe, maybe not. For a player of Tanaka’s stature, his contract is surely going to be lucrative. So capping off the posting fee is just part of the equation. If the A’s, Royals and Rays all agree to a $20MM release fee, if that is what it is in this case, and they match the Yankees and Dodgers, the process moves to the next step. In negotiating a contract, the Yankees and Dodgers may be hamstrung by the luxury tax issue, or, they may both ignore the penalty and sign Tanaka at all costs. Tanaka, or any other Japanese player, may want very badly to play and live in New York and have no interest whatsoever in playing in Oakland.
The games begin the day after Christmas and Masahiro Tanaka and his agent, Casey Close, are in an enviable position. The new posting system rules are in place for three years and we will begin to find out in the next 30 days how long they will last. This could be a long-term solution or the process may get another makeover when the next CBA gets hammered out.