This morning, the New York Times ran an article saying that "several Japanese newspapers" reported that the Rakuten Golden Eagles would not allow top starter to be posted. The new posting system is a kick in the face to NPB teams given the new maximum posting limit of $20 million, so from Rakuten's standpoint, it doesn't make much sense to post Tanaka a year before they have to, since they can reap full value from him by having him on their team next year. The Times says that Rakuten will offer to double or triple his $4 million salary from 2013 to get him to stay, but it doesn't really sound like much of a debate between the two sides since Tanaka can't really pitch anywhere else if the Eagles refuse to post him, unless he was to hold out.
If true, the Yankees would have to turn to inferior overpaid sources for rotation help, and that would not be pretty. They might just decline to pursue any of the big-name starters since all have significant gaps in their game that could quickly turn their contracts into albatrosses.
Take these reports with a grain of salt though; the Times did not actually link to any newspaper aside from trying to interpret a Sports Hochi report without letting readers actually see the article and try to translate it themselves. Some of MLB's leading reporters have contacted their sources and they seem skeptical that the Times report is accurate as well:
GM: "Bizarre news on Rakuten. Not sure I buy it." Reference is to Rakuten’s reported decision not to post Tanaka. No official word yet.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 19, 2013
hearing rakuten is upset about $20M posting fee cap, but no official word japan team will decline to post tanaka yet.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 19, 2013
Rosenthal and Heyman really know their stuff and have good sources, so I'm inclined to trust them more than a random Times reporter. I think this is far from settled, and I don't quite buy the unlinked Times report just yet.
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