The Posting Process For Japanese Players Could Change

Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are working on a new posting agreement, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post. The new agreement could be in place by November 1st, which is this Friday, and could bring some slight changes to the posting process.

Sherman notes that only one team will win the rights to negotiate with players, although it is possible that the player could have his choice between the top 2-3 bidding teams.

Under the current system, teams submit sealed bids, with the highest bidder getting a 30-day window to negotiate with the player. The money from the bid goes to the team in Japan, and it can be costly. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish both required a little over $51 M just for teams to negotiate. The end result is that a top player from Japan could easily cost $100 M, with the player only getting half of that.

Sherman notes that the new system is being designed to keep more money here for players. If a player has a choice between multiple teams, then he can go to the team who can offer him the most money and the best opportunity. It won’t matter to the player what the posting bid was, since that money wouldn’t go to him. It also might benefit the player to go with a team with a lower bid, since that team would have more money to spend on the player.

This isn’t relevant to the Pirates in terms of top free agents, since the Pirates aren’t in on guys like Matsuzaka and Darvish. However, the Pirates did bid on Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima prior to the 2012 season. The Yankees ended up winning the bid for $2 M, but didn’t end up signing Nakajima. That could have been a case where the Pirates would have benefitted from the new proposed posting system. A Japanese shortstop would see a better opportunity with the Pirates than the Yankees, since no shortstop is replacing Derek Jeter.

Nakajima might not be a big loss for the Pirates. He was a true free agent last off-season and signed a two-year, $6.5 M deal with the Athletics. After posting a sub-.700 OPS in Triple-A at the age of 30 he was outrighted off the 40-man roster. But the new posting system could give the Pirates a better shot at landing other low-cost players out of Japan, as long as they’re one of the top 2-3 bidders. Not all of the low-cost players end up like Nakajima.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • leadoff

    The big revenue clubs really have it over the Pirates when it comes to the Japanese players. Could the Pirates ever afford to go after a Darvish? Major league baseball should look into evening it up so that any club has a shot at any player.

  • Mike Adamson

    Amazing that MLB changed the rules of the draft because small market teams like the Pirates we’re manipulating it but international players go to the highest bidder!!! Such BS!!! This change does little and all players should have to come through a International draft. If the Pirates draft a Yu Darvish and choose it’s to much to sign him then they should be able to trade his rights.

    • Tim Williams

      The central theme with all of the rule changes is to give more money to MLB players.

      Teams were spending more on the draft and weren’t spending on players in the MLBPA (draft picks and prospects aren’t in the MLBPA until they reach the majors). As a result, they lowered draft spending so that, in theory, more would go to the players.

      In this case, they’re trying to lower the posting fees so that more money goes to the players. Or so that less money is spent paying other teams. If you can get a Darvish for $50 M, but you can also lower the posting fee by $10-20 M, then that’s $10-20 M extra that stays in the league.

      • capirate

        Nice theory, Tim but I think the central idea is to help the rich teams become richer!

      • Mike Adamson

        I understand that but like you said the Pirates will never get top talent from the International market but were overspending in the draft and getting top end talent. I’m only complaining as a fan of a smaller market team that bidding on players should be eliminated period. It only benefits the larger markets.

        • Tim Williams

          I agree. It’s a flawed system. If you’re born in the US, you are severely restricted on how much you can make. If you’re born in another country, you can at least choose your team, but you are restricted. If you’re over 23 and born in another country, there are no restrictions. And if you’re from Japan, you get paid a ton, but don’t get much choice of your team.

          The people who have it worse are the people who live in the US. Not that it’s bad to sign for millions of dollars and be paid to play baseball. But out of the four groups (US, under 23 international, over 23 international, Japan), the US players have the most restrictions.

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