Masahiro Tanaka will be allowed to post as new MLB/NPB agreement is made official

Koji Watanabe

It's finally official. A new posting system has been put in place and Japanese players can now be posted by their teams. Since the new agreement was reported, nothing seems to have changes, though there are a few small details that have now surfaced:

Basically how this new system will work is that the Japanese team will set a "Release Fee" for their player with Major League Baseball. MLB will then post the player and notify all 30 teams that they can bid if they pay the release fee. All players must be posted between November 1 and February 1, however, teams will have only 30 days to negotiate with the player, starting the day after a player is officially posted. Only the team that reaches an agreement with the player will have to pay the release fee, everyone else will get their money back. If the player cannot reach an agreement with a team after 30 days, they will return to their Japanese team and cannot be posted until the next posting period.

The deal is a three-year agreement and will then continue on a year-to-year basis after that until either MLB or NPB decides to break it off. Depending on how well this new process goes, it's highly likely that one side breaks off the deal after the 2016 season, which could lead to another prolonged period of negotiating.

Now that an agreement has been reached, all eyes now fall on the Golden Eagles and whether or not they will post Masahiro Tanaka, their 25-year-old ace. They were reportedly the only team who openly disagreed with the new deal because under the old system, they were due to make over $50 million, but now will only make $20 million. After talking within the organization, it appears that Rakuten owner Hiroshi Mikitani will allow Tanaka to come to America this year, if he chooses.

Of course this means that almost every MLB team will be lining up to pay their tax-free $20 million for a chance to sign the best free agent on the market. The Yankees were the initial favorites as they liked the idea of being able to secure exclusive negotiating rights to Tanaka and sign him to an under-market contract, since it would have been their contract or nothing for another year. Under the new deal, the player will now be more like a free agent, so the prize will go to the highest bidder. More of the money is going to be taxable, and with the Yankees' budget concerns it's highly possible that they won't be able to afford the contract it will now take to land Tanaka.

Their recent standstill on free agent signings could indicate that they are saving their last bullet for the Japanese right-hander, but it's also possible that they now have no other choice but to go with internal options. Hopefully Tanaka will decide what he wants to do soon.

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