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.