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Commissioner’s office will make sure Masahiro Tanaka doesn’t “repay” Rakuten

Dec 27, 2013, 11:06 PM EDT

masahiro tanaka getty japan Getty Images

Japanese pitching superstar Masahiro Tanaka is expected to earn upwards of $100 million when the bidding process among Major League Baseball teams is all said and done. According to Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Takibana, Tanaka said he would like to help out the Golden Eagles, with whom he played for seven years in the Japan Pacific League, by donating money to help improve the stadium.

Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times is reporting that the commissioner’s office will be intent on enforcing a new provision in the posting system which limits the amount of money a posting team can receive, directly or indirectly, is $20 million. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said, “We are intent on enforcing all the provisions of the agreement.”

Tanaka will draw interest from just about every team, as it costs nothing to speculate — only the winning team is responsible for paying the $20 million posting fee. However, the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Mariners are among the teams expected to pursue Tanaka the strongest.

  1. flamethrower101 - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    So MLB is gonna fight to make sure Tanaka doesn’t show respect to his former team? Really? Does anybody else see how stupid this sounds? The longer this plays out the worse MLB and the Commissioner’s office looks.

    • flamethrower101 - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM

      I understand the provision is in the new posting agreement, but it’s silly. Maybe MLB, the Eagles, and Tanaka can make an agreement where whatever money Tanaka donates does go only to stadium renovations and if the Eagles fail to honor this agreement then they get nothing the next posting.

      • DJ MC - Dec 28, 2013 at 1:15 AM

        If they “get nothing” they won’t post their players. They are under no obligation to do so.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 28, 2013 at 7:49 AM

      Imagine if the Commissioners office had done something about steroids a long, long time ago.
      I remember Air Jordan bought a customized team bus for the Barons minor league Baseball team, was that ok?

    • mikhelb - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      And curiously they do not check that a player signed in the DR, Venezuela, México, etc. is not stripped off his paycheck by the team or group of people who showcased him to MLB.

      It looks like they’ll do it in the case of Cubans who were showcased in exchange for a cut of their paychecks, but still there have been lots of cases of youngsters signed and whose check goes almost in its totality to others (scouts, teams, etc.).

      As an example I’ve used a lot of times because I find it obscene: MLB has agreed that a Mexican summer league team can pocket 75% of a player’s signing bonus, it translated to millions in some cases, with a player only getting a small amount all things considered.

  2. kcroyal - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    It’s his money, can’t he do whatever he wants with it? Is there also a provision that prevents him from helping the poor or donating to cancer research? This sounds silly.

    • flamethrower101 - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:37 PM

      It’s like throwing a good Samaritan in jail for helping an old lady cross the street!

      • signahead - Dec 28, 2013 at 2:34 AM

        Except that the old lady is a multimillion dollar business…and is also a baseball team.

    • paperlions - Dec 28, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      Of course there isn’t.

      It isn’t a stupid provision at all….it is a provision to keep teams from extorting their players in exchange for posting them (i.e. it keeps teams from saying, we’ll post you if you give us 10% of your MLB earnings).

      • mikhelb - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        And MLB allows it to happen in other leagues and it has happened way too many times. In México, MLB agreed to allow a team to keep 75% of the signing bonus of a player, and it is not a “up to 75%” nor “if you want to” kind of clause, it is a de facto forfeit of 75%.

        MLB has been sued by Adrián González dad because of that issue, he represents youngsters who are being blocked to sign in MLB because they’re mexicans and MLB only negotiates with the summer league, and since those kids do not want to give 75% of their check to a league that has not helped in any way whatsoever, they can’t sign (on top, they sign a 14 year old kid with their fathers consent, to a lifetime contract with no money guaranteed, and if he develops onto a good player, they’ll own the rights to said player forever, and he won’t be able to sign in the MLB).

      • historiophiliac - Dec 30, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        How was your holiday?

      • paperlions - Dec 30, 2013 at 11:28 PM

        Trying. Just got home from the Airport, actually flew through Detroit on the way back. I got a head cold (mostly sinus congestion) on the 22nd and didn’t start shaking it until yesterday. Other than that….pretty good, actually….now back to the real world.

        How are things in OK?

      • historiophiliac - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:21 AM

        Sure, blame Detroit.

        I crossed the Red River for Xmas. I had a pretty good holiday, but I think this is the worst off-season ever. Last year was more fun. Maybe the Yahoos are part of that, but it seems like the news is dull too.

  3. statsdolie - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    I believe MLB is concerned that the team would only post him if he agreed to pay them extra money for allowing him to go to the MLB. Lets not be naive and think that such an occurrence wouldn’t happen.

    • flamethrower101 - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      I hope that’s the case. I doubt they’d be stupid enough to say “Oh you want to donate money to help renovate their stadium? Too bad! You can’t. Now go play with your new team.” Then again this is Bud Selig’s MLB so I wouldn’t be shocked.

      • louderthanwords1 - Dec 28, 2013 at 6:41 AM

        Yes flamethrower101 because Bud Selig, David Stern and Roger Goodell are abominations to their sport. Everything they do is absolutely horrible! It’s so stupid to see people whining about the commissioners in each sport. It’s the same people I’m sure who complain about management at their job everyday. No one is right every time(flamethrower101 you were already wrong in this post saying the Eagles should get nothing the next posting if they fail to use the money for only renovations because if they get nothing they will post no one). I don’t mind when people have complaints about certain things like the NFL playing games overseas etc but to say “Then again this is Bud Selig’s MLB so I wouldn’t be shocked.” seems like a lame attempt at wit or an even worse attempt at humor/

      • mikhelb - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:27 PM


        Well, it is Bud Selig who after all allowed Loria to change teams, even when they knew about the scams he ran in Montreal. They’ve allowed him to pocket money.

        Selig wanted McCourt out of baseball for doing the same thing, the only difference is McCourt was openly against Selig, and Bud doesn’t like that (he took shots at Frank McCourt more than once).

        When MLB agreed for the Texas Rangers to be sold, Selig reviewed all offers and didn’t accept the highest and better bid, because it was submitted by Mark Cuban, to whom Selig is not fond because of his “antics” (his various bids had been eliminated even if they were the best), he “forced” a bidding proccess to acquire the Texas Rangers when he reveled the Rangers were bankrupt and MLB didn’t want to disclose that to allow Ryan-Greenberg to acquire the team for a fraction of its value (they were already granted MLBs permission to buy the team).

        As per the steroids/PED/drug cases, he appointed somebody with close ties to a team to conduct a study on drug use on MLB, a supposedly anonymous antidoping testing proccess and the power to poing fingers towards players he felt were “dirty”, he chose former senator George Mitchell, who was overly critic against some figures for their ties with people like Ángel Presinal who had been banned by MLB for possession of steroids in the US/Canada border… yet he decided not to point the finger to players in the team he was part of the front office (Red Sox players who were trained and tended by Presinal in the DR: Pedro Martínez, Manny Ramírez, David Ortíz, among others… even up to this day, David Ortíz is being trained by Presinal and his “special milkshakes”, and lets remember we now know Ortíz and Manny failed that “anonymous antidoping test” but Mitchell did nothing, in complicity with Selig).

        And… well, I guess you get the picture now,

    • bobulated - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      Agree 100%, basically this is a kickback no matter what it’s intended for. It would be an easy exploit by other teams before releasing players to posting in the future to require players to “give” something back under the table to be posted once precedent was set.
      Tanaka has made 172 starts and pitched 1,315 innings for Rakuten before turning 25, he doesn’t owe them jack in fact IMHO they should be paying his contract insurance.

      • fanofevilempire - Dec 28, 2013 at 7:53 AM

        funny but American players owe American baseball fans something.
        another BS situation for MLB.

    • capsboy - Dec 27, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      Too which the only logical reply is “so what”.

      • DJ MC - Dec 28, 2013 at 1:13 AM

        Because there is no point in having an agreement in place if one side is going to subvert it.

        It would be like MLB sponsoring a foreign-exchange-type program for Japanese high-school stars and then offering work visas for any that just so happen to want to stay and go through the major-league draft. It observes the letter of their general agreement (that MLB cannot accept players from Japanese teams outside of free agency or the posting system) while violating the spirit.

    • stoutfiles - Dec 28, 2013 at 5:55 AM

      There’s nothing MLB can do about it though. There are endless ways you can move money around through middle men to pull this off.

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 28, 2013 at 7:51 AM

      I think MLB has to clean up their own back yard first and STFU.

  4. jdf902000 - Dec 28, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    When are they just going to start calling them transfer fees. Soccer already has huge infrastructure for international transfers. I wish MLB would allow it to remain a free market system instead of artificially capping fees.

  5. anxovies - Dec 28, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    I just can’t shake the idea that somehow this is ARod’s fault.

  6. jballallen - Dec 28, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Had they asked Tanaka to buy out his contract, he would be a free agent now, not a posted player, and he wouldn’t be breaking any rules. What’s MLB going to do about that, tell NPB what its rules should be? Perhaps it will try.

    • mikhelb - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      As far as I know, he can not buy out his contract.

  7. doctornature - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    What is MLB going to do, ask Homeland Security to monitor Tanaka’s Japanese Bank account, claiming the money may be used to fund terrorists? They can’t even stop Lobbyists in this country from making kickbacks or illegal campaign contributions, and yet they expect to be able to prevent this?

    This is all pomp and bluster from MLB, who are taking a stand they are unable to do anything about. Tanaka has already made his deal with the Eagles, and there is nothing MLB can do about it except blowhard.

    • mikhelb - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      They already do it with Cuban players, they monitor a player’s bank account(s) to make sure he is not sending money to the government. That’s why nobody can negotiate nor sign a recently “defected” Cuban player until he is reviewed by the US government, after that he can apply for a visa and can enter US territory and sign a contract.

  8. cackalackyank - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    I think what MLB is trying to do here, since there was the back and forth about would they or wouldn’t they post Tanaka, is prevent a ‘quid pro quo’ situation. This idea that he will pay to fix up Rakuten’s stadium does give the impression of “Hey if I help you renovate the ball park, will you let me go to MLB”? Which, I do not think should be allowed to happen. If he wants to donate a few million of his Dollars to Rakuten’s favorite charity that’s fine. However paying them what amount’s to a “kick back” on his deal for baseball related expenses is imo, different. I suppose one way to get around this situation though, would be for him to “buy” a small share of the team, then that would pretty much cover it.

  9. mikhelb - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    If I were an owner of a team, I’d have a chat with Rakuten Golden Eagle’s owner or group of owners, to ask them to post two low level players, and paying a posting fee of 20 MM for each, to sign them for the MLB minimum.

    That way, they’d get $60 millions and my team would acquire three players, two of whom, headed to AA or AAA.

    The three players of course, should know about that so they accept the highest bid from my team.

    In the previous agreement it was impossible to conduct that because the bids were submitted to the Nippon team and they didn’t know who was responsible for the bid and they accepted the one they considered the best (unless it contained a strangely “unique” amount, like the ones submitted for Matsuzaka, Igawa and Darvish and they knew the amount beforehand).

    • mikhelb - Dec 28, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      During christmass dinner, my dad actually asked me:

      is there a rule prohibiting X MLB team to acquire, say, 5 nippon players from the same team, all of them for the maximum posting fee allowed and 4 of ’em signed to minor league contracts?

      I sincerely don’t know, but it would be a cunning way to acquire a big star by paying premium dollars via the posting proccess (which doesn’t count towards luxury TAX).

      And it is something that already happens when a team wants to trade a BIG star and they trade him for 5-6 players, with 2 of them being nothing more as mere “filling” (talking ’bout turkey LOL).

  10. autmorsautlibertas - Dec 28, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    This rule is designed to discourage graft and corruption. It is designed to prevent Japanese teams from extorting money from players. Without this rule, Japanese teams could refuse to post a player unless he ponied up some kind of a gratuity to his team. If he is allowed to contribute to a stadium, all future players will be subject to the same kind of coercion. Rakuten is sore over not getting the same windfall that accompanied the Darvish and Matsuzaka deals, and really do not want him to leave. We do not want the posting system to become a corrupt scheme where players have to “buy” their way out.

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