Japan’s NPB will likely accept the terms proposed by MLB for a new posting system. The new system would set the maximum post at $20 million. Previously, posting amounts have been unlimited, leading to astronomical fees such as the $51.7 million set for Yu Darvish by the Texas Rangers in 2012. That fee was in addition to the $60 million contract the Rangers ultimately agreed to with Darvish.
Under the new proposed system, if multiple teams post the maximum of $20 million, then the player would have the right to choose which team he’d like to play for. Contract negotiations would proceed similarly from there, likely ending with the most lucrative contact offer wining out.
Masahiro Tanaka is a 25-year-old, right-handed pitcher playing for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka is 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA in seven seasons with the team. Needless to say, several MLB teams, including the New York Yankees, would love to add him to their rotations.
The Yankees have been busy in the free agent market, already signing catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, among others. With today’s news that Robinson Cano will reportedly accept a 10-year, $240 million offer from the Seattle Mariners, GM Brian Cashman suddenly has more money to play with. Tanaka would add a much-needed boost to an aging and sputtering Yankees rotation.
So what would this new posting system mean for the Yankees’ chances at Tanaka? First, the president of his current team has said that the Golden Eagles would consider not posting him at all. In fact, of the 12 teams in the NPB, Rakuten is the only one that is opposed to the proposed changes. After all, a maximum post severely limits the profit it stands to make by posting the pitcher.
If Tanaka isn’t posted, then the conversation is a moot point, and the Yankees will need to look elsewhere for pitching help. They are reportedly going to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda, but the 38-year-old ace is not a long-term solution.
The Yankees do have a sketchy history with Japanese pitchers, which has led them to steer clear of the outrageous posting fees in recent years. However, the new minimum would be a great advantage for all MLB teams involved, and could be just the thing to get the Yankees back in the game.
Unfortunately, the Yankees wouldn’t be the only team getting back in the game. A $20 maximum bid would likely lure additional suitors, and from there a bidding war would ensue with the actual contract negotiations. With no maximum to how much an MLB team can sign a player for, there’s no telling how high the price would go.
Also, rumor has it that another feature of the new system would include a stipulation that teams with the worst records would get priority in negotiations. This could encourage even more teams to throw their hats in the ring and further decrease the Yankees’ likelihood of landing Tanaka.
As we’ve just learned with Cano, the Yankees always need to have a backup plan.