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MLB, NPB discussing new posting rules

Nov 30, 2012, 4:40 PM EDT

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reports that Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are discussing changes to the posting system. Talks are just starting and won’t affect anyone for the 2013 season, but the hope is to have something new in place for next winter.

As you know, the posting system involves teams blindly bidding for the rights to negotiate with the Japanese player who is seeking to come to the U.S.  The Japanese player’s NPB team picks the highest bidder who then tries to strike a deal with the player. If they do, the MLB team pays the player and the posting fee.  If they don’t, the posting fee is returned.

As Passan notes, the upshot of the negotiations involves MLB’s desire to have the bidding for negotiation rights to be open, so that the winning bidder need only top the next highest bid by a little, rather than make blind offers.  Such a system would be more efficient (and obviously cheaper) for the MLB teams and would allow for the player to get more money in his pocket. After all, if a team had $100 million to offer a stud NPB player, an efficient system would allow, say, $35 million to go for posting and $65 million to the player as opposed to, say, $50 million to posting and $50 million to the player. Oh, and if the more dollars could go to the player, it’s more likely that they’d sign in the U.S., thus actually allowing posting fees to be paid to NPB teams instead of being refunded.

Efficiency: it’s what’s for dinner.

  1. Gordon - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    NPB should require that the posting fee be guaranteed. If the team with the winning bid doesn’t strike a deal with the player, tough luck…they’re out the $35 mil or some portion of that. Seems like a fair tradeoff for taking less posting fees.

    • natstowngreg - Nov 30, 2012 at 6:48 PM

      After reading Passan’s piece, my question is — what would NPB get in return for for agreeing to a process that might lower its teams’ rights fees? Guaranteeing them might be something NPB might demand.

      That said, I agree with raysfan. To make a big bid, an MLB team would have to be pretty sure it could sign the player. The risk of paying the fee, then not getting the player, seems likely to discourage bidding.

      • crpls - Dec 1, 2012 at 9:16 AM

        NPB will continue to get what they get now: a posting system.

        MLB is under no obligation to abide by NPB contracts. They could simply rule it open season on their players, or just go back to the Nomo/Soriano loopholes.

        I mean, I doubt MLB would actually do that, even though it would help out MLB teams interested in Japanese players. But my point is that NPB doesn’t actually have any leverage here.

  2. historiophiliac - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    And by “efficiency” you mean “individualism.”

  3. raysfan1 - Nov 30, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Gordon–
    That would tend to result in fewer teams bidding and thus result in lowering the bids further. Teams won’t bid unless they can afford to win and yet not sign the player. Teams that do bid are likely to hedge their bids for the same reason.

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