Major League Baseball and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league will continue talks this week in hopes that they can come to a new posting agreement to allow players like Masahiro Tanaka come to MLB to pitch, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America.
The previous agreement between the two sides expired in the middle of October, preventing players under contract in Japan from playing in America. Under the previous agreement, MLB teams would place a blind bid on a player posted by their Nippon Pro Baseball team. The winner of that bidding process received 30 days to negotiate with the player on a contract. If a deal was reached, the amount of the winning bid was given to the player's NPB team. If no agreement was made, both the player and bid were returned to their original teams.
There have been negotiations to potentially place big changes into the previous posting agreement as the Japanese teams hoped to gain more money, players hoped to have more of a choice where what team they play for, and MLB wants to reduce the costs of bidding fees. Proposed solutions included allowing the top three bids all have the chance to negotiate a contract or the top bidder having the only opportunity, but paying the average of the top two bids.
The two sides have been close to an agreement earlier in the offseason. However, several small-market clubs in the MLB forced the deal off the table because it did not count any of the bidding fee against the luxury tax. Japanese officials have said that they will now hope to negotiate to keep a similar deal to what had previously been in place.
Tanaka, 25, will certainly be the player most effected if no agreement is reached soon. He has been expected to be posted this offseason and would likely garner a record posting fee. Tanaka posted a 1.27 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013 and has been compared to Rangers starter Yu Darvish. The Dodgers, Cubs and Yankees have all been rumored to have heavy interest in Tanaka.