Oct 28, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; MLB commissioner Bud Selig at a press conference before game four of the 2012 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
UPDATE: 12/4/13 (4:57 p.m. ET) — According to MLBTR, Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker is reporting that NPB officials are planning to accept a Major League Baseball proposal of a $20 million maximum bid and the new posting rules.
The proposal states that should multiple teams submit maximum bids for Japanese players, the team with the lowest winning percentage would gain negotiating rights.
This change was made with small-market teams in mind, as the overwhelming majority of major Japanese talent has fetched monstrous posting fees in years past, eliminating many teams from even considering it as a viable option.
As the calendar turns over to December, several Major League Baseball organizations have a particularly costly gift on their minds – 25-year old right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
With that in mind, organizational representatives, league representatives and baseball fans alike have watched the ongoing talks between Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball with the rights to sign Tanaka on the line.
Until an agreement is reached between the two sides, teams cannot post their respective bids that would allow them to negotiate with Tanaka and other Japanese players under contract.
SB Nation offered the following explanation of the now-expired posting system:
"Under the now-expired posting agreement, a player under contract in Japan could be posted by his NPB team to play in the MLB. American teams would then place blind bids, with the highest bidder winning the opportunity to negotiate a deal with the player. The Japanese team gets to keep the bidding fee. However, if no contract is reached between the MLB team and the player within 30 days, both the player and the bidding fee were returned to their original teams."
Now, after several cracks at the negotiating table, the two sides have talked about several potential changes to the posting system, despite no imminent agreement.
According to a Nov. 18 report by the Japan Times, NPB is aiming for a system that is largely similar to the existing one. NPB’s general secretary Atsushi Ihara offered the following statement to members of the media:
"We will negotiate to try to keep what we have. We have to go over a timetable with them (MLB)."
A Major League Baseball proposal in mid-November reportedly set the winning fee at a figure between the two highest bids. Should a MLB team fail to sign the player, the club could then be subject to a fine. Since then, it has been reported that this portion of the proposal has fallen by the wayside during talks.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times detailed further information about the proposal on Twitter earlier this week, saying: “MLB proposes max bid on negotiating rights with Japanese players. Dodgers or Angels wouldn’t be able to make blowout bid on Tanaka.”
Shaikin went on to add another key detail about the proposal, saying: “If multiple teams make max bid on Japanese player, he decides team with which he’ll negotiate. If adopted, a bit of help for small markets.”
This information conflicted with a report from Shaikin’s colleague in Los Angeles, Dylan Hernandez, who said that “the team with the worst record in the previous season would be awarded negotiating rights in the event of multiple maximum bids,” according to CBS Sports.
No definitive limit has been mentioned by either side, and many believe it could vary year-to-year.
The top teams expected to vie for Tanaka’s services – the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees – have already begun their offseason moves, capped by New York’s signing of outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury last night. This could allow other teams that have been considered long-shots to sign Tanaka – such as the Cubs – to make a play on the Golden Eagles ace later this winter.