Why do so many people seem to view this differently than a mlb player demanding an increase in his contract mid-term? In general, people seem to view it as greedy when a U.S. player demands a big raise mid-contract (I remember some big hullabaloo a few years ago over a football player on this issue).
That is essentially what Tanaka is doing here. He signed a contract to pitch for Rakuten through 2015. Perhaps there was discussion at the time about a release if he wanted to go to the U.S. but it looks as though the basis for any agreement on that point has been changed by the change in the rules on the posting fee.
I've been bothered by some articles I've seen recently (can't find them back) indicating that Rakuten would take a public relations hit if they didn't allow Tanaka to go to the U.S. I fail to see what is so honorable about Tanaka asking to be let out of his contract.
Also, Berardino linked to an interesting column: http://www.baseballamerica.com/inter...mHSnwU.twitter
I suspect that there will be a lot of maneuvering to try to get around the "cap".
On the question of whether the primary reason for the posting fee limit was concerns over the luxury tax, why not just impose the tax on the posting fee over $20m but still allow bidding?
I was of the opinion that the new system is a bit of a benefit to small and mid-market teams because it caps the amount not subject to the luxury tax and then levels the playing field in a regular free agent situation. But I'm not sure it really matters because the "big boys" will always have more money to spend if they have the willingness to do so.
The thing that the posting system most affects is the contractual relationship between the NPB team and its player. While teams and players will undoubtedly take the new system into account in their current contract negotiations, there is an impact on contracts already in existence. It will be interesting to see what Rakuten decides to do.
Secondly, Japanese players drafted 2007 or after become "free agents" after 7 years of service, but can't sign internationally till after 9 years. As we all know, those two years are often a player's prime and represent millions of dollars of potential earnings.
Unless a player wants to wait till year 10, when he is truly a free agent, he will be under NPB control in some form or another - either through the NPB FA rules or under team contract. In other words, nobody can post in years 8-9 unless their team posts them, meaning, 100% of Japanese players who post will be under contract.
Willihammer, that's all really interesting. It just doesn't totally address my question.
I really don't care about an mlb player going to Japan (which I view primarily as a way of resuscitating a career rather than something done on an upward career arc).
If I'm understanding it correctly, it is years 8 and 9 that seem unfair -- because they would be later than most mlb-drafted players (excellent ones, that is) would hit free agency.
So, if wikipedia is right (sorry, I have no clear idea where to find the best info on international players), Tanaka was drafted in 2006.
I looked back at the 2006 mlb draft and it looks to me like the closest comparables are Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer (not necessarily in terms of ability but in terms of career arc).
Kershaw and Scherzer won't be eligible for free agency until 2015. Lincecum probably would have first been eligible in 2013 (I think).
I'm not sure why Tanaka should receive consideration in becoming a free agent earlier than Kershaw and Scherzer.
I'm trying to understand how the $20m that Rakutan gets for giving up Tanaka at this point compares to what L.A. or Detroit could get in value if they made Kershaw or Scherzer available for trade.
EDIT: That first paragraph sounds a little snotty and its not meant to be. I really do appreciate the info you provided in your last post, Willihammer.
To follow up on my last comment:
Would the Dodgers or Tigers grant Kershaw or Scherzer free agency TODAY for the payment of $20 million?
I think that's the only way to look at this as an apples to apples situation.
In my view an apples to apples situation is where free agency means free agency and there is no such thing as a posting system.
However you're right that Tanaka was drafted in 2006, not 2007 as I thought. Teams have 8 years control on those players and so nobody from that class would be even a domestic FA till next offseason.
We'll just have to disagree on whether the new system is much more akin to free agency. To me, since the posting fee is set, there isn't much disincentive for clubs to "throw their hat in the ring" if they are interested in the player. It's not as though they lose the posting fee if they aren't the club that signs the player. And it is totally different from the old "highest bidder" system where one club could try to block others.
I still wonder what it would take to get LA or Detroit to give up a year of control on Kershaw and Scherzer.
Saw this just now:
A Rakuten Eagles official suggested Wednesday that any decision about whether or not ace pitcher Masahiro Tanaka can move to the major leagues this offseason could take a while.
"Within the organization, this is a discussion about an adjustment that is not that simple," Hiroshi Abei, the scouting director for the Pacific League and Japan Series champions, said. "There is a possibility it could take a while."
Sounds like this could drag on.
Another twist to Japanese baseball free agency rules is that players must decide whether or not to entire the domestic (Japanese) draft. If they do then they are locked in for 8 years. There was some speculation that Shonei Otani (sp?) (an elite talent) was going to bypass the Japanese draft and enter the international free agency market (intending to sign with an MLB team) but nothing ever happened. But they clearly need to make the choice before that draft because after that their rights are owned for 8 years.
I'm not sure how Kershaw or Scherzer being available in a trade is relevant. The posting fee is a cash payment to release someone from a contract/league while a trade is an exchange of players. I highly doubt the MLB ever allows teams to post a player (basically sell off) prior to FA. I could see (and would like) a change in free agency eligibility eliminating the whole service time game. That would be awesome actually.
Would they take $20m instead of keeping their star on the payroll for another year?
That's basically what Rakuten is being asked to do (except that it is actually 2 years early).
Just another way of looking at the question of whether the new posting system is fair to NPB teams.
Latest (per MLBTR): Rakuten is doubling his salary to 800m Yen ($7.7m)- a record for the club. The key detail: "The hurler nevertheless appears ready to accept whatever decision Rakuten comes to. 'If the team tells me, 'We're not going to post you. Please stay,' the professional thing to do is give it your all and get back to pitching'".
There you go, traditional Confucian Japanese culture. While Tanaka had gone on record as saying he wanted to make the jump, I'd say that the deeply entrenched value for maintenance of order and respect for authority wins out. Another important factor: his wife is a famous J-Pop singer with an established career in Japan- what's she going to do if he jumps? Career restart in NYC, and try to get Jay-Z to break her in the American market?
I'm doubling down on the 'no post' wager.
I don't really know what Rakuten wants to happen this offseason. There really is no end game for them that is better than having him pitch this year for $3M and then getting the same $20M next year that they're getting this year.
I also find it interesting that in that scenario BOTH Rakuten and Tanaka are sharing the injury risk. If he suddenly contract an injury, they're both screwed.
(Still waiting for my last post to show up...)
Very latest: CBS has it via NYT that Rakuten will not post Tanaka.
That $20 million is more than double of Rakutan's total player payroll. (100 yen to a dollar in the link, so that 400M yen is $4M)
So the apples to apples question should be: Would the Tigers or Dodgers grant Scherzer or Kershaw free agency for $300M?
The answer, of course, is hey yeah!
Here is another perspective for this:
From 1999 to present only 19 NPB players were posted. Of those 17 were Japanese (the other 2 were Timo Perez and Ramon Ramirez - good trivia question.) From those 19 players, 10 signed major league deals, 3 minor league deals and the rest did not reach an agreement. For those 13 players that a fee had to be paid, the fee was higher than $20M in 3 occasions. So we are talking about a situation that may happen every 4-5 years. Too much ado for something so rare...
you can find all posted players here. And, yes there were a lot of other Japanese players (like Hideki Matsui) who came over here as free agents without being posted because they became free agents there (like Tanaka will be for 2016)
I think it's a done deal, all shakeout now.
The 4-letter network had an interesting piece on Tanaka earlier, worth a read: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10...aka-worth-fuss
Context: Rakuten is based in Sendai, northern Honshu (Japan's main island) and is effectively an expansion club following a 2004 merger of the Blue Wave and the Buffaloes. Think: Diamondbacks. This is a new team in a small market, and they just won the big prize because of Tanaka. Dang right they want to keep him!
My reference to Japanese culture & Tanaka's wife's career was a window onto the specific 'intangibles' in play that, I feel, is a swing factor persuasive for a Japanese player, but likely not 'in the math' for the average US MLB fan.
In the dollars-and-cents/bottom-line-minded culture we live in, mindsets which go against that grain are hard to understand, but worth getting outside the box, if just to figure out how the market will play, and how it will affect our Twins.
In that respect, I can speculate that the Twins' strong scouting presence in Asia communicate the cultural complexity involved up the line, and that MGMT was proactive in response, moving early to make their SP signings, and get on Arroyo's doorstep. From that viewpoint, I have nothing but praise for reading the tea leaves, being sensitive/sensible, and taking action sooner rather than later.
Watch the SP market go bonkers now- bet Nolasco et al look like bargains come ST.
But we're still talking about giving up 2 years of control. John is right that the best deal that Rakuten can probably get given the current situation is to keep him for this year and then post him next year. Yes, there is an injury risk but presumably they could insure against that. The overall payout for Rakuten is still probably higher if they keep him another year.
Don't want to go overboard here, but maybe I can clarify my previous post.
Agree w/JB_Iowa about the control point. Think of it more like a Brewers/Bruan situation where they have a star they locked up. Or, possibly, Angels/Trout (not a small market, obviously).
Sendai was devestated by the Tohoku earthquake, so there's a bit of a 'Boston Strong' element here as well. These '13 NPB Champs are absolute heroes to their community.
There's another incentive for staying.
Finally- and I don't want to go too far off the reservation here, but feel I should mention it- Japan has never had a Kennesaw Mountain Landis, and never will. Yakuza involvement in the game is persistently rumored, and will never go away. The PED issue looks like child's play by comparison. We should be grateful.
Clearly, there's no talk now about Tanaka/Rakuten/Yakuza, but then that's not how organized crime works. They don't seek headlines. What they do seek is 'soft levers' to exert pressure and control. Now, I could be totally wrong about this, but felt that I needed to introduce this into the discussion to dispel the idea that easy, 1-to-1 comparisons can/should be made. Could all sorts of 'pressure' be applied to Tanaka? A worthwhile question...
For those interested on this aspect of NPB, the most recent scandal (2012) is detailed here: