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Masahiro Tanaka decision coming early this week?

Dec 22, 2013, 4:37 PM EDT

tanaka getty Getty Images

The drama may be over soon. Ben Badler of Baseball America did the translation work on media reports out of Japan:

Tanaka is currently away in Tokyo making appearances at events today and tomorrow, according to Japanese media reports, including Nikkan Sports. While Tanaka said he has yet to hear back from Eagles management since he informed the team of his desire to pitch in Major League Baseball next season, it’s expected that the Eagles will inform Tanaka of their decision at their next meeting.

That meeting is likely to take place as soon as Tanaka arrives back from Tokyo — Tuesday, December 24 or Wednesday, December 25.

There have been conflicting reports about the Rakuten Golden Eagles’ intentions. Probably because the team itself is conflicted. They’re upset about the new posting fee system, which puts a $20 million maximum on posting fees, but they also don’t want to rob Tanaka of his dream to compete at baseball’s highest level. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 183/32 K/BB ratio in 212 innings this past summer in Japan and could command more than $100 million from a Major League Baseball team if Rakuten allows him to leave.

  1. iyasu - Dec 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    The full Nikkan article in English at: http://baseballjapanworld.blogspot.com/

    Additional details on my TL on twitter @iyasuN

  2. iyasu - Dec 22, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Interesting point from the Nikkan article: Rakuten checked with NPB about whether they would have any way of tracking which MLB teams a posted Tanaka was negotiating with.

  3. sawxalicious - Dec 22, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    I still don’t know why the Japanese Baseball League agreed to posting fee cap. You don’t get a concession for nothing, and I must have missed how this benefits the Japanese (baseball clubs). There is a definite benefit to their players, as their first U.S. contracts will likely be much larger. Anyone have some insight into this?

    • iyasu - Dec 22, 2013 at 7:36 PM

      some factors:

      – MLB said they were okay with no posting system at all.

      – Player being able to negotiate with multiple teams was seen as a gain for the Japan side (for players, not really a gain for teams, i know) and the cap may have been considered something they had to give up, or was okay to give up, in exchange.

      – There was pressure to get an agreement in place because Tanaka had a historic season and seemed to want to go to MLB, and no one wanted to be responsible for ruining his chance to be posted.

      • flamethrower101 - Dec 22, 2013 at 8:28 PM

        My only deterrent with the system is the low posting fee. If it were a little higher – say $30MM or even $35MM – I don’t think the NPB would be quite as upset. It’s not $51.7MM but it’s better than $20MM

    • mikhelb - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      MLB has a recent history of creating impasses when “negotiating” with other leagues or associations, so their petitions are accepted and if the other part doesn’t like it, then MLB threatens to retire all their other agreements.

      It happened in the Caribbean when countries wanted to include Cuba and a few other things, MLB demanded for Cuba not to be included and their players not to be available to be exported to the US, the Caribbean Association wanted Cuba and another country plus other benefits to their players who currently play in the US but are blocked to play during winter.

      MLB then said they were not willing to negotiate if their demands were not met and blocked EVERYBODY to play during winter, a few weeks after that, the Caribbean Association accepted all of MLBs petitions (this during october).

      Once they had everything worked, MLB decided to allow Cuba’s inclussion in the Caribbean Series together with another team (happened about two weeks ago), but since we’re a month away from the next edition (will be held in Venezuela), it is still not very clear what were the conditions put in place by MLB to allow Cuba to play (the US Department of State is the one who opposed the most, initially).

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they did something like that with the NPB.

  4. uyf1950 - Dec 22, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Assuming that Tanaka does get posted it’s obvious that the Yankees will be interested and will push hard to sign him. But that got me thinking about the Dodgers probably the only team that dollar for dollar can go head to head with the Yankees for his services money wise. Sure a lot of teams will submit the posting fee but few will be able offer the types of dollars it will take to sign him. Which brings me back to the Dodgers.
    Both Baseball-Reference and Cot’s project the Dodgers 2014 25 man active payroll to be $220MM to $225MM once you factor in Kershaw and Uribe. Add to that the balance of the 40 man roster about $3MM plus and about $11MM MLB charges all teams for benefits etc…(they charged teams $10.8MM in 2013). That would bring the Dodgers payroll to something in the neighborhood of $235MM plus for luxury tax purposes. That means the Dodgers if they do nothing else the entire 2014 season would owe 30% of about $45MM (the difference between $189MM and their payroll estimate of $235MM) = $13.5MM plus or minus.
    Is an expenditure of close to $250MM ($235MM payroll and $13.5MM in tax) something that the Dodgers ownership/management is willing to commit to?
    Food for thought.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 23, 2013 at 12:19 AM

      I think there might be a couple other teams that would go for the 20 million fee plus @100 million. My question is whether 100 million is really going to get it done? UYF, I’m curious what do you think about the length of the deal? I’m thinking 4 or five years.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 23, 2013 at 5:40 AM

        My friend their certainly could be a few other teams in the mix, but I think at the $80MM mark most of the pretenders will drop out. The Cubs could belly up to the bar after that.so could the Red Sox, Nationals and fans here are always talking about the Mariners which I’m sure is a possibility I guess. My point was though aside from the the Dodgers I really don’t see any of those other teams being able to beat out the Yankees IF the Yankees truly wanted to sign him and went all out money wise to get it done.

        As for your question about length I think it’s a 6 year deal when you are talking upwards of $17MM per to sign him, not including the posting fee. BTW, both Dice K and Darvish signed for 6 years although Darvish does have the ability to opt-out at some point depending on a complicated formula should he win or come in in the top 3 of the CY voting in some years. But my guess would be the deal is for 6 years, with maybe an opt out after 4 years based on some qualification. Either of those 2 deals would allow Tanaka to hit true FA and still be UNDER 31 years old or younger even after a 6 year deal.

        I just hope this “ordeal” of on again off again, will he won’t he be posted comes to an end sooner rather than later so all the teams came move on about their business.

        Have a good day my friend.

      • cackalackyank - Dec 23, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        Thanks uyf. Appreciate the answer. I’m pretty sure Garza, Jiminez, and E. Santana and their agents want this posting ordeal over real soon. Maybe more than we do.

    • mikhelb - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      They already spent more than $250 MM in 2013, Tax included.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 23, 2013 at 5:28 PM

        That’s true for 2013 including the tax the number was: $254.4MM according to ESPN. But keep in mind the tax they paid was at a 17.5% rate as a first time offender.

        In 2014 when they go over they will be charged at the 30% rate as an offender for the 2nd time. So if they were to go after and ultimately sign Tanaka for about $17MM per their payroll expenditure for the 2014 even if they do nothing else during the season would be about $275MM. That’s $20MM plus more then they paid in 2013.

        Then going forward their tax rate would go up to 40% the 3rd year and 50% the 4th year. Things really don’t get much better for them then either.

  5. rev0jc - Dec 22, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    MLB truly botched this one with their wanton disregard for the validity of the NPB League and its own obsession with creating a economic (pseudo) parity structure to ensure small market teams get the advantages supposedly only available to bigger market clubs.

    What nonsensical logic caused them to believe that a culture rooted in the display of respect and a team representing a region recovering from one of the worst tragedies in modern history, would simply bow down and accept the diminished agreement to strip the league of not only it’s most recognizable star but to reduce the reward incentive to go along with the talent pilfering???

    The Golden Eagles just won its FIRST championship with this remarkable phenom pitching an UNDEFEATED season and then adding to his lore with a world class playoff performance where he saved the title game the day after he rung out a 160 pitch outing – this kid is a SERIOUS gamer!!! The team just struck pay dirt and figured that they will offset his revenue loss with a significant posting windfall.

    Then MLB comes along and blindsides NPB with this new structure and thinks it will be acceptable and not create the murky, phallus-wagging standoff we have witnessed for the last month+. Obviously, Uncle Bud and the Castaways at MLB HQ are guilty of some serious mental insufficiency (or other nefarious deeds).

    Seriously lost in this is how special this young man is. I mean let’s consider what he did not just this season (24-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.943 WHIP) but over his NPB career (99-35 lifetime with a 2.30 ERA/1.108 WHIP). OMG(oodness)!!! This kid is the real McCoy regardless of whatever league he’s pitching in.

    We don’t have any MiLB’ers pumping out stats like that in the States, so let’s stop the demeaning reference about the NPB being grossly inferior to MLB – they may not be on an even par, but they’re certainly better than our AAA structure. Moreover this is a special kid with a fantastic gift and skill set that wants to do what every athlete wants – to compete against the best and prove he belongs. Both MLB and NPB (particularly the Golden Eagles) need to exercise some temperance in helping foster the dreams of these stellar athletes, not treat them like chattel to be bought and sold at market.

    Just let the kid pursue his dreams and ambitions and play wherever he wants to challenge himself. He has certainly earned that right. As a baseball purist, I for one want to always see the best play against the best, so let’s just allow the kid the chance to prove he has the stuff that made Gibson, Koufax, Ryan, Seaver, Richard, Gooden, Maddux, Martinez, Johnson and Halladay household names as feared SP’s.

    So how about some good ol’ Asian “face saving”, huh? I would suggest something of a “reboot” or simple amendment to the newly ratified agreement that essentially spreads the benefits evenly across the board. Small market teams get to post with the Big Boys; NPB teams get fair compensation for releasing their stars early and players get to play amongst their true peers.

    My solution goes like this: Let’s have all posting teams agree to a percentage of the posting to be surrendered as a non-refundable deposit. It creates a “pay to play” structure. So, if 10 teams were to bid on Tanaka at the $20M cap and a 15% deposit is deemed non-refundable for the teams that don’t win the negotiations, here is the upside:

    9 @ $3M (15%) = $27M

    1 @ $20M = $20M

    Total Posting Revenue (Rakuten): $47M

    It’s fair and equitable while giving all the small market teams the ability to bid on securing the rights to negotiate with a star talent. The deposit is a pittance compared to what MLB teams spend on player costs (i.e. barely the salary of a below average utility player).

    Let’s unblock the logjam and make this lil’ tweak so everyone saves face and the Hot Stove gets fired up properly.

    • voidhelix - Dec 23, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      Conviluted.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 23, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      MLB truly botched this one with their wanton disregard for the validity of the NPB League and its own obsession with creating a economic (pseudo) parity structure to ensure small market teams get the advantages supposedly only available to bigger market clubs.

      Every single NPB club except Rakuten agreed to this cap on the posting system. Why do you keep posting this giant diatribe when you don’t have all the facts?

      • mikhelb - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:46 PM

        Because only Rakuten had a HUGE superstar that could impact MLB. Darvish its not there anymore, so nobody else but Rakuten would benefit from a no cap.

        It looks like you don’t really know about how MLB conducts their “negotiations”. Please inform yourself on the matter and THEN opine, otherwise, you’d be talking garbage (I recommend to you to inform yourself with how the negotiations with the Caribbean Association happened a few months ago).

  6. innout10 - Dec 22, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    So all of a sudden there are americans (who read/comment on this blog) who are worried about how much money American companies pay Japanese companies for the right to a premium product? As a Canadian living in US that’s pretty funny!!

  7. sawxalicious - Dec 23, 2013 at 3:17 AM

    @innout10:
    I’m not worried about the finances for Japanese teams, I was just wondering why they would change from a system that would bring a windfall to individual organizations.

  8. voidhelix - Dec 23, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    He WILL be posted. Tanaka`s a FA in Japan after this year, he would still have another year of contractual league eligibility but any team in the NPB could sign him for that year. Rakuten risk losing $20M. That won`t happen.

    • paperlions - Dec 23, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      No, he is not a FA after this year. He’ll be a FA after 2015. The Japanese system of player control is similar to that in the US, just because a player doesn’t have a contract doesn’t mean he will be a FA….just like all arbitration eligible MLB players.

    • mikhelb - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      Rakuten made more than $20 MM this year alone in marketing Tanaka, he basically appeared in every TV and radio show, jerseys with his name were selling at a record pace not seen since Hideki Matsui’s feats and Ichiro’s incursion in the MLB. They made so much money they offered Tanaka to increase his salary so he could become the highest paid player in NPB history (about twice what he makes right now).

      The only reason he will be posted is out of respect for Tanaka’s wish.

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