The future of Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Golden Eagles remains unclear as the Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball leagues are still finalizing details of an agreement for MLB teams wishing to acquire players under the NPB. President of the NPB 2013 Champions, Rakuten Golden Eagles’ Yozo Tachibana, mentioned last Tuesday to reporters in the MLB winter meetings in Florida that it has not reached a decision if they will accept bids for star pitcher Tanaka.
Tachibana was dismayed at the provision of the agreement limiting the posting fees for Japanese teams to $20 million. It is noted that two years ago, Yu Darvish of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters was posted to negotiate with the Texas Rangers for a record fee of $51.7 million and was signed on by the team for an additional $56 million. Tanaka’s contract with Rakuten is still for two more seasons. Tachibana said that he still has to meet with Tanaka to discuss the options.
The posting system, a player transfer negotiation system for Nippon Professional Baseball and the U.S.’s Major League Baseball, has been in effect since 1998 and has proven to be more advantageous to Japanese players wanting to transfer to the MLB because it shortens the required nine playing years to become an eligible free agent in the U.S. An announcement of the final agreement between the NPB and MLB is likely to be made next week.
Should Rakuten decide to post Masahiro Tanaka, three clubs – The New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers – have already given their intention to negotiate with him. Hal Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees, said last month, “We certainly like him. He’s a great player, without a doubt. I’m sure there will be numerous teams in on him. He’d be a great, great catch for anybody.”