Major League Baseball is reportedly working with Nippon Professional Baseball on changing the posting agreement between the two leagues. They hope the new system will be in place by November 1.
Previously, MLB teams would post bids to Japanese teams for exclusive negotiating rights with one of their players. The Boston Red Sox, for instance, won the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2007 and the Texas Rangers had the highest bid for Yu Darvish in 2012. Under the new system, the player would have more control over his American destination, able to choose between the top two, or maybe three bidders.
The new system has definite improvements. It will allow MLB teams to spend less money on the posting fee and more on signing the actual player. Furthermore, teams would no longer be able to outbid rivals as a defensive strategy in order to prevent them from acquiring negotiating rights.
The changes are both good and bad for the New York Yankees as they are expected to be a huge player for the latest Japanese import, Masahiro Tanaka. For the first time, money is somewhat of an issue for the Yanks this offseason. They have numerous holes in the lineup to fill while simultaneously trying to keep the payroll under $189 million in order to avoid massive luxury taxes. Though posting fees do not count towards payroll, the new system means they can save some money going after Tanaka and spend it elsewhere. Say, their All-Star second baseman?
However, the new system also instills some egalitarianism into the process, which does not play to New York’s advantage. No longer can the Yankees flex their financial muscle and simply outbid everyone for Japanese players. Instead, they must appear to be the most appealing organization to play for. The Yankees cannot simply buy Tanaka – he must choose them.
Looking to next year, New York needs some serious help in the starting rotation and Tanaka could provide it. The 24-year-old went 24-0 in Japan this year with a 1.27 ERA. The Yankees’ commitment to winning and their mega-contract potential will likely help them in courting the Japanese right hander, but nothing is guaranteed.