MLB, NPB agree to new free agent posting system

MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball have agreed in principle to a new posting system, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As Sherman notes, the final step prior to approval is for MLB’s executive council to sign off on the deal, which is expected to happen soon.

As for the details, it’s likely as expected: The NPB team posting a free agent will reportedly be able to name a posting fee up to $20 million. At that point, all interested teams will agree to the posting fee, and the free agent in question will then be allowed to negotiate with the teams that have consented to the specific fee. However, only the team that signs the free agent will owe the posting fee to the player’s former NBP club.

This new system is a win for MLB, as the old format permitted posting fees much higher than $20 million — Yu Darvish’s $51.7-million tab and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s $52.1-million fee, for notable instance (ugh..!).

All of this means we’ll probably soon have some clarity regarding the status of coveted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who’s generally regarded as the top potential free agent pitcher on the market. Tanaka’s current team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, have in the recent past hinted that they may consider not posting their star under the new rules, but that stance seems to have softened this week. The general feeling is that if Tanaka wishes to make the jump, then he’ll be allowed to do so.

Masahiro Tanaka

On that front, it’s worth noting that Rukuten’s team president, according to Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, is set to arrive at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. The Yankees, Cubs, Mariners and Dodgers are among the teams believed to have strong interest in the 26-year-old Tanaka.

One would have to believe that under the new system, the idea of parity between MLB’s ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’ will be at least, a little, improved.  Teams who otherwise would have sat back and watched due to the idea of paying over $50 million (in some cases a third of annual payroll for the ‘Have Nots’) for the right just to talk to the player may now be more inclined to take a chance and upset their division norm, whatever that norm may be.

If the Astros (it’s just an example, calm yourself) can take a leap and snag an import centerpiece to build upon, they can stand alongside the likes of The Dodgers, Bombers and Scarlett Hose… at least until they’re forced to trade that centerpiece for a bag of fungo bats, cash and some prospects.


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