A posting system was finally, formally agreed to yesterday by MLB and NPB. Observers have long believed the only Japanese player who would create demand among major league teams, if posted this year, is Masahiro Tanaka. And Tanaka’s team doesn’t want to let him go.
First, the stipulations of the new posting system:
- If an NPB Club wishes to make one of its players available to Major League Clubs, the NPB shall notify the Office of the Commissioner of the NPB player’s potential availability and the “release fee” that a Major League Club must pay to the NPB Club in order to secure the NPB player’s release. The NPB Club may not set the release fee at an amount higher than $20 million and the fee cannot be changed once it has been set by the NPB Club.
- The Office of the Commissioner shall then “post” the NPB player’s availability by notifying all Major League Clubs of the NPB player’s availability and the release fee sought by the NPB Club.
- All “postings” of NPB players must be made between November 1st and February 1st.
- Beginning the day after the player is posted, and concluding 30 days later, any Major League Club willing to pay the release fee set by the NPB Club may then negotiate with the player in an attempt to reach an agreement on a contract.
- If a Major League Club is able to reach an agreement on a contract with the posted NPB player, the Major League Club must pay the NPB Club the designated release fee, which will occur in installments, the timing of which depends on the size of the release fee.
- If the posted NPB player fails to reach an agreement with a Major League Club, the release fee is not owed, the NPB player remains under reserve to his NPB Club, and the player may not be posted again until the following November 1st.
- The term of the new posting agreement is three years, continuing from year-to-year thereafter until either the Office of the Commissioner or the NPB gives notice of its intent to terminate the agreement one hundred and eighty days prior to the anniversary of the commencement of the agreement.
On that last point, neither side can formally declare its intent to opt out of the agreement until June 2016. One reason to opt out sooner: There’s a loophole.
Beyond the possibilities for under-the-table payments from MLB to NPB, or contract clauses that require a player to donate a portion of his salary to his NPB club, Ben Badler of BaseballAmerica.com offered this:
There is a way for Rakuten to get around the $20 million cap by taking a page from how MLB teams openly conduct business in Latin America. … Rakuten, essentially, would coordinate a package deal with Tanaka, another Eagles player and an agent who will represent both players and align himself with all three parties.
The Eagles would allow Tanaka to be posted for a $20 million release fee. Rakuten would also take a second player—preferably a low-salary reserve player it won’t miss—and post him, too; we’ll use a $15 million release fee for him, by way of example. The parties involved would all agree that, for an MLB team to sign Tanaka, it also has to sign the second player to a contract worth $1 million.
I recommend reading the full article for an explanation of how this might represent an appealing compromise to Rakuten.
Team president Yozo Tachibana formally met with Tanaka and basically said “we’re not letting you go to America.” That’s where things stand now, though the two will reportedly meet again.
If Tanaka remains in Japan, maybe the Dodgers come out the big winners in all of this. A year from now, the contracts for Dan Haren, Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett will be off the books. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and – assuming he re-signs – Clayton Kershaw will still be Dodgers. There will be a clearly defined internal budget for Tanaka. More importantly, the teams that need Tanaka more than the Dodgers and can actually afford him (the Yankees and Cubs top that list) are left to settle for the other starters in this year’s free agent crop. Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez will cost their new teams a first-round 2014 draft pick; Bronson Arroyo and Matt Garza will not. All of those guys are looking for a multi-year commitment.
It’s doubtful that Santana, Jimenez, Arroyo and Garza could have gone 24-0 in NPB last season.
Some bullet points for a Tuesday:
• Mark Mulder wants a major-league contract. That probably rules out the Dodgers, and at least one other team:
Giants checked in on Mark Mulder but he was looking for more than they could offer, was hoping for a Major League contract.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) December 17, 2013
• Lots of Best Of 2013 music lists are coming out right now. Here’s one song that is getting good ink; it sets the appropriate mood for a romantic tragedy, or for cruising Sunset Boulevard looking for romantic tragedy: