MLB, Japan working toward new posting system

Koji Watanabe

The two sides have identified three ideas for new posting systems.

Major League Baseball and executives from Japanese baseball are a little bit closer to agreeing to a new posting system for players to come to the majors from Nippon Professional Baseball. The two sides have identified three possible versions of the process, and one of those three will eventually be adopted, according to David Waldstein of the New York Times.

Under the current system, a player in NPB must ask him team permission to be posted, and the request must be approved by both the team and the league. Once the player is posted, there is a four-day silent auction in which MLB teams submit sealed bids for the player's negotiating rights; the team with the highest bid earns exclusive permission to negotiate with the player. If the two sides come to an agreement, then the player signs a contract with the MLB team and the team pays the posting fee to the NPB team; if they can't agree within 30 days, then the bid is returned to the MLB team and the player must remain in NPB until the next posting period.

This system has received criticism from agents due to its tendency to suppress player salaries. The expensive posting fee, combined with the inability to create a bidding war, means that players coming from NPB via the posting system receive drastically discounted deals. Pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish each drew winning bids of over $50 million, which surely limited the salaries which they ultimately received from their MLB teams.

No specifics have been released regarding the details of any of the proposed new posting systems, but one idea floated by MLB has been for the winning team's posting fee to be the average of the top two bids rather than the amount of the highest bid, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Since posting fees don't count toward the luxury tax, teams can spend more money acquiring Japanese players without taking too big of a hit to their tax status; MLB would like to change that dynamic, reports Badler, and shifting more of the money spent toward salaries rather than posting fees would help accomplish that goal.

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