MLB has worked out a posting agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball to accommodate Japanese players, who haven’t qualified for free agency in their native country, but want to play in the United States.
MLB wanted to avoid a repeat of the astronomical winning posting bid by the Texas Rangers of $51.7 million in 2011, just to have the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish, which resulted in a $60 million contract. Thus, there will be a limit of $20 million on any bid by teams interested in signing a Japanese player.
Should more than one team reach the maximum, the player is free to negotiate with any team that reached the $20 million cap.
From Bleacher Report:
Position Rank: No. 1 starting pitcher
Qualifying Offer: No (ineligible)
Why Teams Want Him
Considering the underwhelming crop of free-agent starting pitchers, Masahiro Tanaka ought to attract a host of suitors.
The right-hander just turned 25, yet he already has seven years of professional experience. The above stats (and his undefeated regular-season record) won’t be sustainable in the U.S., but with help from a lethal splitter and great command, Tanaka possesses all the tools to be a frontline starter.
The timing is significant, since the Rakuten Golden Eagles star RHP Masahiro Tanaka–24-0 with a 1.27 ERA– during the regular season, could become available this winter and, with Japan’s Spring Training starting Feb. 1, the drop-dead date to post Tanaka is rapidly approaching.
MLB won changes that would allow more teams to have an opportunity to sign Japanese players. Just two years ago, the Texas Rangers bid $51.7 million just for the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish, before signing the right-hander to a six-year, $60 million contract.
Just entering his prime performance years, the 25-year-old Tanaka, has two more years in Japan before he can become an unrestricted free agent, unless The Golden Eagles agree to post him; at this point, club officials haven’t revealed whether they’ll make him available.
The team may want to keep him for one year on the assumption that they would still be able to get the $20 million next offseason, rather than keep him two more years and let him walk for no compensation.