Major League Baseball and the Japanese Nippon Pro Baseball league will continue negotiations on a new posting agreement Thursday, according to a Japanese media report. (h/t Ben Badler of Baseball America)
The two sides have been working on a new deal to put a system in place since the old one expired late in the 2013 season. The issue has become key this offseason as many teams are waiting for Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka to be posted before moving on some of the other big name starting pitchers on the market. Tanaka can not be posted until a new system is in place, however.
Under the now-expired posting agreement, a player under contract in Japan could be posted by his NPB team to play in the MLB. American teams would then place blind bids, with the highest bidder winning the opportunity to negotiate a deal with the player. The Japanese team gets to keep the bidding fee. However, if no contract is reached between the MLB team and the player within 30 days, both the player and the bidding fee were returned to their original teams.
There have been a variety of proposed changes to the system this year as players wanted more of a choice as to what team they would play for, Japanese teams wanted more money, and the MLB wanted to reduce the cost of bidding fees. Various solutions that have come up included allowing the top three bidding teams negotiate with the player or having the top bidder pay the average of the two largest bids.
The MLB and NPB had been close to a deal earlier in the offseason, but the MLB withdrew their proposal after small market teams complained about a bid not being counted against the winning team's luxury tax. The Japanese side said recently that they were now hoping to just come to a similar deal as the system that had previously been in place.
Tanaka has drawn comparisons to Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish, who was acquired through the posting system two years ago. The 25-year-old Tanaka posted a 1.27 ERA and 0.94 WHIP during the 2013 season while pitching with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. The Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers are among those hoping to sign the star pitcher.