Masahiro Tanaka; If you haven’t heard of that name yet, get ready, it is coming. Tanaka is the star pitcher that is currently in the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball League. Many people have been comparing him to Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers. Tanaka is the latest star pitcher in Japan wanting to try his hand at professional baseball here in the U.S..
In the past, when a professional player from Japan decided he wanted to come to the states, there were a few hoops that he had to jump through. First, there was a blind “auction” for a posting fee. This basically means that all the teams that were interested in acquiring that player submitted a secret posting fee. On a certain date, those posting fees were disclosed and the highest amount won exclusive negotiation rights with that player.
Some interesting things to note. The posting fee went to the Japanese team, not the player. Also the player lost a lot of leverage as he was unable to hear offers from multiple teams. He could choose to remain in Japan, but the whole point of going through that process was the players desire to head to the United States.
This system created outlandish posting fees, followed by modest contracts. For instance. Diasuke Matsuzaka only received a maximum of 10 million dollars a year, yet the Boston Red Sox submitted a posting fee of more than 51 million dollars.
This system expired this past year and Major League Baseball recognized the inherent flaws with this system. They believed that the player should receive more of the money, and should have more options as to where they are going to sign. This lead to a new agreement that is currently in the process of being ratified by the Nippon League.
The new system would still alow bids on posting fees but would max out the bidding at 20 million dollars. If multiple teams submitted the 20 million dollar bid, then the player could begin negotiations with all teams that submitted the max bid. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, only Tanaka’s current team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles are disputing the agreement, likely because this system will cost them upwards of 30 million dollars that they would have received through the old system. Nevertheless, insiders in MLB expect this agreement to be ratified and the process to be in place for Tanaka’s posting.
So where does this new system leave the Marlins? This posting process greatly enhances the Marlins chances of obtaining quality players from the Japanese League. It handicaps the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox’s of the world by limiting the teams that “print money” from dominating the posting system.
It levels the playing field and provides an opportunity for the Marlins to negotiate deals with these players, and if they are unwilling to sign with the Marlins, then they don’t lose any money. Really it is a great system that the Marlins should have been first in line to agree upon. I think we are going to see a greater number of players looking to come to the U.S. to play baseball, which will bring added diversity to the sport and further Major League Baseball as the greatest baseball league in the world.
Keep your eye on Tanaka this year, you never know, it’s possible the Marlins could convince him to join them in Miami. After all, I have heard that South Beach is a great place to be.